As dietitians, we often realize most people know what they should be eating but quite frequently many people state how expensive it is to eat healthy. This can be true if not shopping carefully however we have some helpful tips to help you stretch your food dollar while upping the nutrition value as well.
1. Use coupons and reward program cards. Coupons can be found in many places including the Sunday paper, online, or even in a smartphone app. Many grocery stores have reward cards which can help you save money not only on groceries, but other things such as gas.
2. Shop the sales. Plan your meals around items that are on sale especially items that are normally higher priced like beef or chicken when they are on sale. If you use these quite often, stock up and freeze items for later.
3. Buy the generic or the private label brand of items at the store. These are often 15-20 percent less expensive than their name brand counterparts but typically the quality is just the same.
4. Shop in season. Purchase fresh produce when it is in season. If you purchase in season you can usually stock up on items frequently used and store or freeze them for later use. If you didn’t get to do this this summer, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can be a great alternative as long as they are low in sodium and sugar and typically are reasonably priced.
5. Plan menus for a week out and make a list of what you need to prepare those items. Making spur-of-the-moment purchases can quickly add up the cost of your food bill and purchasing only what you need can help save costs. Planning meals out ahead of time will also help save on grocery store or fast food runs when looking for something to eat last minute.
6. Don’t make impulse buys at the checkout aisle. These items tend to be unhealthy items with a higher price tag and typically items that you don’t necessarily need.
7. Serve appropriate portion sizes. This will definitely make your food budget last longer. Use a deck of cards or the palm of your hand to estimate a 3 ounce serving of meat. Limit dairy to an 8 ounce glass of milk instead of 16 ounces. This will not only save on food costs but may help with weight loss as well!
8. Take inventory. Every week spend just a few minutes making a list of everything you have that needs to get used up before it will spoil. Toss old vegetables into a pot of soup or freeze leftovers to use for a later date. Use too ripe fruit in smoothies or make banana bread.
9. Use low-cost, high-nutrition value foods in your menu/meal planning. These include: eggs, beans (such as kidney, cannelloni, black beans), sweet potatoes, peanut butter, canned salmon or tuna, brown rice, barley, and canned or frozen fruits/vegetables.
One other thing to think of when shopping and eating healthfully is how much money it could not only save in the short-term but the long-term as well on healthcare costs. With just a little extra planning and preparation, you can make grocery shopping not only easier but healthier.