Trying to eat well without breaking the budget can be difficult these days. For the health-conscious shopper at the grocery store, the four most costly items tend to be meat, organically-grown foods, pre-cut produce, and pre-prepared foods. Of course, limiting some of these foods may help the budget, but there are a few more things you can do and still feed yourself and your family well.
1. Buy the store brands. They tend to be less expensive than the national brand names.
2. Look for the produce that is in season and plan your menu around those items.
3. Some foods tend to absorb a higher amount of pesticides than others, so spending money on organically-grown foods on those is a wise buy, but for other produce the organic version may not be as necessary. Check out http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php for a list of the produce that is highest/lowest in pesticide residue.
4. Only plan meals for 4-5 nights per week. Clean the leftovers out of the refrigerator for the next couple days’ meals. Not only do you have a cleaner fridge, but you also benefit from eating that food rather than throwing it (and your grocery dollars) in the garbage.
5. Rather than having meat as your main dish every day, plan on using it as a side dish some days. Or eat some meatless meals. If going meatless is new to you, the internet has many great sites for some fresh ideas to help you get started.
6. Buy in bulk when foods are offered in bulk.
7. Note the amount you are spending on beverages. Exchange some fancy drinks for a healthful glass of water!
8. Compare prices per unit. A larger package is often less per unit than a smaller one.
9. Watch for sales at your local grocery store and stock up when prices are lower.
10. Make your own food. It is almost always less costly to make it yourself than to buy it pre-packaged. Make it a family affair—get some good family time in while you are preparing those dishes together and enjoy the process!
Give these ideas a try for one month and see how much it helps. Let us know how you do!