One of the biggest complaints I hear from people when it comes to improving their diets and eating healthier is that “health food is so expensive!”. People can’t seem to understand that sure it CAN be, but does NOT HAVE to be! Here are some simple tips that will help you and your family eat healthier while still staying under the food budget!
1. In-season produce is often less expensive; asparagus in the Spring, zucchini in Summer, pears in Fall and leafy greens in Winter. See below to find out when different produce is in season!
2. Locate and investigate the Farmer’s markets in your area. Local produce has not traveled long distances so it is often in better condition, lower-priced and treated with fewer chemicals.
3. Where available, picking your own berries and other produce provides a good workout and great family outing.
4. Growing your own herbs, veggies, or fruit in a yard, patio or sunny windowsill is inexpensive and rewarding. This is a great project to get kids involved in and can teach them a sense of responsibility through taking care of the plants and pride through watching them grow!
5. Buy only as much fresh produce as you will use within 3-4 days. After that, the nutritional value decreases. Throwing away food is expensive; use overripe fruit like bananas and peaches for baking purposes.
6. Choose canned or frozen fruits and veggies when fresh is expensive or unavailable, but remember to avoid added sugar and salt. Always read food labels.
7. To prevent impulsive shopping, always shop for groceries with a list.
8. Shop on a full stomach to avoid unplanned purchases or choosing convenience foods low in nutrition.
9. Use coupons only for products you were planning to buy anyway. Try to combine sale items with coupons for extra savings. Just because you have a great coupon for something does not mean you have to use it!
10. Try store-brand products; you may not find much difference between these and the more expensive brand names.
11. Where bulk foods are available, choose to scoop your own grans, beans, cereal, nuts, etc.You’ll save money by buying only what you need.
12. Buy juice as frozen concentrate instead of ready to use bottles or cartons. The nutritional content is the same. Just make sure to choose only 100% fruit juices.
13. Buy plain brown rice or other whole grains and add your own herbs and spices, instead of prepackaged blends that are often high in sodium.
14. Purchase plain, non-fat yogurt and add your own chopped apples, dash of cinnamon and drop of pure vanilla or stevia. You’ll get less sugar for less money!
15. Instead of a gallon of ice cream, buy popsicles or ice cream sandwiches (or try soy versions). Although individually packaged options cost more per unit, they will help you control portion sizes and in turn save money. Other great sweet, cold options include sorbet and frozen yogurt! Buy plain frozen yogurt and add your own fruit, toppings, and stevia or pure vanilla to sweeten!
16. Decide which convenience foods you REALLY need. Would you rather slice mushrooms or tear your own lettuce leaves than buy pre-packaged options? Or is reduced prep time well work a few extra dollars?
17. Take your kids with you to the store!! Not only will it help them learn to make smart food choices, but you will tend to be more quick and efficient in your shopping.
18. Make you own sandwiches so you can control the amount of mayo or mustard you put on. Load your sandwiches with fresh veggies. Make sure to choose fiber-rich, whole grain bread or pitas.
19. Keep a bottle of water with you all day long instead of buy sodas. Water has no calories, caffeine or sugar. Avoid the soda/juice aisle all together!
20. Bring your own lunch to work instead of buying it. Stir fry or veggie pasta leftovers can be quickly heated up in the microwave. Bonus: Since you won’t sit in a restaurant or wait in a line, you’ll have time for a midday walk!
21. Rather than going to the vending machine, bring snacks from home with you for the day. Fresh fruit salad, raisins or other dried fruits, unsalted raw nuts, raw veggies, baked blue corn chips, or Greek yogurt and granola make excellent quick snacks.
22. Instead of buying deli turkey by the pound, purchase whole turkey breast, roast it in the oven, slice into individual portions and freeze in zip-top backs until needed.
23. When you purchase meat, divide it into 3 ounce servings (the size of a deck of cards) and place in freezer safe bags or containers. This will help control portion sizes and encourage you to use less meat in casseroles, stir fries, and pasta sauces.
24. Always keep a few cans of beans on hand to use as a meat substitute in various dishes.
25. Cutting down on meat leaves more money to buy a variety of veggies, even out of season. Eating a variety of foods will make smaller portions of meat less noticeable.
26. When you’re too tired or busy to cook a full meal, don’t fall into the expensive trap of going out to eat. Instead, make a veggie-filled sandwich or have soup and whole grain crackers.
27. Always freeze leftovers (rather than refrigerate them) unless you will definitely use them the next day.
28. Try making your own salad dressing with olive oil, flavored vinegar and your favorite seasonings.
29. Since baked goods freeze well, make muffins and quick breads in large quantities.Include whole grains, shredded veggies and fresh or dried fruits.
30. Create your own trail mix with unsalted nuts, whole-grain granola, pretzels and chopped dried fruits in place of the store-bought kind, which often contain excess salt, sugar, and saturated fats.
31. Remember that eating healthfully now will save money on health costs in the future. Fill your plate with two-thirds (or more) of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans and one-third (or less) animal foods.
Head over to the “Meal Plan” tab to receive your Free copy of my Fat Shredding Diet Plan!