Healthy eating doesn’t have to break your budget. You don’t have to resort to low-cost pre-packaged foods in order to save on your monthly food bill. Here are a few ideas to reduce your grocery bill and your waistline:
1. Make A List
Hey, it works for Santa! Make a list, and check it twice before going to the store. List out your favorite foods and design menu plans that incorporate them. You’ll find that enjoyment increases and you’ll actually eat those leftovers. Over time you’ll also notice when your favorites are on sale or when coupons are available. Many grocery stores have eCoupon programs. For the “cost” of giving your email address, why not save on those staples items?
Once you’ve got a standard list, break it down by grocery aisle. Then, keep it in a Word document. That way you can print it out before you go to the store and jot down any other items you may need. Have a snack while you’re at it. Studies have shown that if you’re hungry when shopping you’re more likely to succumb to impulse buys.
Once you’re trolling the aisles, it just a matter of checking your list and putting them into your cart. A side benefit: splurge items don’t automatically migrate home with you; it takes a conscious effort for you to add them while shopping. Planning your meals and using a list will support your budget and healthy eating lifestyle.
Oh, and don’t forget your reusable and earth-friendly shopping bags. Some stores charge as cities have passed local laws in order to reduce landfill.
2. Nutritious Frozen Food?
Actually frozen food is full of vitamins as they are picked at their peak. They are less costly than their more perishable equivalent. Of course I’m talking about frozen fruits and veggies without sauces and additives. For those items where you still want fresh, look to locally grown and in-season produce as they are more economical than their imported counterpart.
3. Spice It Up
It’s amazing how spices and herbs can dress up a ho-hum meal. Trader Joe’s has a nice selection of low-cost spices. Experiment by adding them to your favorite dishes. Basil and mint plants are also on sale. Add them to salads or vegetable topping to freshen things up.
Considering planting them and harvest those sprigs at the end of the growing season. Make your own pesto and freeze in old-fashioned ice cube trays so you can pull them out in winter. I made pesto last month, froze it in ice cube trays and now enjoy pesto in my scrambled eggs once a week. Yum!
4. Bargain Proteins
Fresh meat and fish can take a bite out of your dining-in expense. There are other value-priced protein sources like eggs, cheese, milk, tofu and legumes. There are tons of meatless recipes available online; they can be heart-friendly, filling as well as economical. Who knows… tofu just might find its way into your family’s favorite meals.
5. Ditch Specialty Foods
A great way to run up a grocery bill is specialty foods or recipes with odd ingredients. Have you noticed that unusual and rarely used items are expensive, and they tend to go stale and unused? When you stick to your favorites and keep your menu simple, you’ll find less waste and unexpected spikes to your bill.
If you’ve got some budget friendly and healthy eating tips that are working for you, please post them in the comments section so we can all benefit!