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Eating Healthy on a Budget

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Healthy eating habits don't have to cost you more at the grocery store.

By shopping smart and cooking creatively, you can stay within your food budget and enjoy nutritious meals.

Nine Suggestions for Spending Less

Implementing just a few of these tips can save you dollars.

  1. Most people buy less at the grocery store when they plan their week’s meals before shopping. You are more likely to purchase only what you need when shopping from a list. You can also check to see whether some of the ingredients are already in your home.
  2. Prepare your own meals instead of eating out or ordering in. This includes brewing your own coffee in the morning, packing a lunch, and keeping snacks in a desk drawer at work to avoid vending machines.
  3. Purchasing grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone-free meat is a wise choice but expensive. By having meat with only one meal each day and occasionally having meat-free days, you can buy healthy meat products and keep costs down. On meat-free days, rely on other protein-rich foods such as legumes (beans), nuts, eggs, peanut butter, whole grains and tofu.
  4. Decide a reasonable dollar amount to spend on groceries per week or per month and shop within that budget. If you are not sure what the amount should be, you might want track your food spending for two to four weeks. An awareness of current spending habits often helps people decide how they would prefer to spend.
  5. Organic produce tends to be less expensive when purchased locally at a farmer’s market or food co-op and items that are in-season usually cost less. Know which stores in your area generally sell for less and buy what you can there.
  6. A primary way to save money on organic (or non-organic) food is to buy in bulk. Foods such as legumes, spices, and grains keep for a long time without the addition of unhealthy preservatives.
  7. Shop sales to stock up on non-perishables, minimally processed packaged products, items that have a long shelf-life (e.g., grains, nuts, spices, beans), and those that can be frozen (e.g., herbs, meats, vegetables, and fruits).
  8. Remember that frozen produce is typically less expensive than fresh produce. Much of it is flash frozen, sealing in the nutrients.
  9. Make it a practice to not throw food away. Use leftovers for lunch or to "jazz up" other food you are preparing. Every few weeks you might also skip a grocery shopping trip and cook for a few days using ingredients that have accumulated in your cupboards and freezer. This prevents food from being “forgotten” and eventually tossed out.

Source: Health Freedoms
Photo credit: Bruce Stockwell / flickr creative commons