Healthy food is often more expensive than its junk food counterparts, and when money is tight it is tempting to opt for cheaper food. But before you go for the cheapest food available consider that prepackaged food is often loaded with fat, salt, and an array of chemicals used for flavorings, colorings and preservatives, none of which should be a regular part of a healthy diet. Instead of trading in quality food purchases when cash flow gets low, try these simple solutions.
Celebrate the season. Pick produce that is bountiful and in season, which often also means it will be on sale. Peruse the local grocery store advertisement and make a weekly menu plan that showcases the season’s bounty currently on sale.
Have a plan and stick to it. In addition to making a weekly menu plan, make sure to make a grocery list before heading out to the store. Deciding what you need in advance helps to avoid impulse buys and numerous trips to the store to get forgotten items. A great tool for those with a smartphone is the Food Planner app, you can import and store recipes, plan the menu, import groceries needed from menu plan directly into a sharable grocery list, and even sync the menu plan with an external calendar and across multiple devices.
Go Meatless on Monday. Animal protein can add up to a quarter of the food budget. Try incorporating more plant based sources of protein into the diet, including beans and tofu, which are often also more thrifty choices as well. The Meatless Monday website is a wonderful resource for recipes and information about why eating less meat is good for everyone.
Don’t pay for packaging. Snacks that are packaged in individual servings are bad for the environment and the pocketbook. There are many different reusable containers that can be found on the market today, while the initial expenditure may be more, over time, quality products can continue to be reused without continual expense. A great option for those concerned about plastics leaching chemicals into healthy snacks is LunchBots, which touts itself as being the “highest quality, best-looking, healthiest food containers on the planet.”
Bulk up. Buy staples in bulk. If the purchase is inevitable and storage is available, buy in bulk. Rice, flour, and canned beans are all staples that can be economical bulk purchases. Found a great bargain on produce? Split the bounty with friends and neighbors, sharing will allow you avoid waste and take advantage of the bargain. Most fresh produce can also be frozen or canned to extend shelf-life. Having healthy staples on hand also will help to avoid frequent trips to the store or the temptation to hit the drive thru after a long day.
With some planning and ingenuity, convenience and saving money does not need to come at the expense of health and nutrition.