It’s the New Year and your plan is to be healthier than the last year. The only problem is that you’ve also made a resolution to save money this year (or you have no choice but to have a small food budget). Here are a few tips for people (like me) who don’t have much money to spend on healthy food.
1. Plan your week’s worth of food. Have you ever gone to the grocery store hungry? I have, and I nearly bought up the whole store thinking that my cart was my stomach. It’s better to plan your meals and your grocery list ahead of time so that you don’t waste additional money on things that you won’t even eat.
Monday: Eggplant Parmesan for dinner; Eggplant, Parmesan Cheese, Pasta Sauce, Olive Oil
Tuesday: Veggie Lasagna; Eggplant, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, mozzarella, tomato, pasta sauce
2. Buy things that you can use for multiple meals: If you notice in the schedule of things above, you will see that I’ve used some things more than once for meals. Buying several staple items like chicken breasts, whole grain pasta or rice, bulk veggies and sauces can help to stretch your healthy food supply.
3. Canned Food: If you’re short on money AND time, canned food might be your best bet for veggies. They are generally cheaper than the veggies in the produce section and already come cut up and chopped. However, look at the label when purchasing. Some canned foods have high levels of sodium and preservatives.
Here are a few examples of some healthy canned foods:
4. Grocery Store Brand/Grocery Store Sales: It is worth investing in a grocery store MVP or “Valued Customer” card. Most stores offer these cards for free. Weekly in store sales help to stretch your budget. The picture above shows the results of a sale last week for yogurt; 20 yogurts for $10.00! Many stores now provide their weekly circulars online. It is a misconception that store brand items are of lesser quality than name brand. In my experience, most of the items taste the same or better. Your savings will increase even more if you have coupons.
5. Buy more veggies: I tend to spend the most money per item on meat. For example, I spend about $10.00 per packet of chicken breasts. $10.00 can get me about 10 canned veggies and 2 or 3 different fruits. My husband and I have found it more reasonable to fill up on two or three veggies per night rather than having mostly meat on our plate. This is also based on myplate.gov recommendations.
6. Farmer’s market freeze: One of my favorite things about the farmer’s market is the fact that I can freeze much of the leafy green produce. I bought a $5.00 5 lb bag of kale last November. We are still eating that kale. Best $5.00 I’ve ever spent in my life!
My grocery list favorites: I don’t buy these every week, but I make sure that they are stocked in the house!
Lettuce: ($1.25 per head. Lettuce is not only good for salad, but is also good for sandwiches and lettuce wraps)
Chicken Breasts (about $10.00 per pack. This usually lasts us about a week and a half. It can be used for a variety of meals. My husband and I have chosen to eat mostly poultry. We try not to eat red meat or pork.)
Kale (about $2.00 per bunch, cheaper during farmer’s market season. Kale is not only a super food, but it’s full of protein and can be washed and frozen.)
Eggplant (about $2.00 each. One large eggplant is enough to last 2 or 3 dinners between me and my husband.)
Granola (about $2.50 each. My fave kind of cereal)
Natural Peanut Butter (about $3.00, a good source of protein to eat in moderation)
Ground Turkey Meat ( about $3.00 per pound. I love using this for meatloaf, pasta meat, or just adding a little something special to a different dish)
Broccoli: ( about $1.50 per frozen bag, This is healthy roughage that is tasty when sauteed with a garlic and olive oil)
Sweat Potatoes ( price depends on the season. This is a complex carbohydrate and its so tasty and filling)
Oatmeal ( about $2.50 for a box of ten packets or $2.00 for a tall container of instant oatmeal. This is a very filling breakfast meal. It is heart healthy.)
Brown Rice (about $2.00 for a 2 pound bag. This is a better alternative to pasta or potatoes. Whole grains are better than processed grains at managing your weight and preventing chronic diseases).
Black Beans ($1.25 per can. This is good for protein)
Almond Milk ($.300 per gallon. I cannot really tolerate animal milk, and my husband is allergic to soy, so this is a tasty alternative)
Tomatoes ($2.00 for a 4 pack/ great for adding seasoning or color to a dish)
Onions ($5.00 for a 5lb bag. Great for seasoning and an alternative to salt)
Bananas ($.50 per pound. Everyone’s favorite fruit and something sweet to snack on)
Apples ($4.00 per 5lb bag. Great for a quick snack and sweet tooth.)
Well, I hope this helps. Make a budget and go shopping!