A misconception many have when initially seeking to improve their nutrition is that “it’s expensive to eat healthy”. At first, this may appear to be true however maybe it is in your perception of the cost. When compared to expensive medical care for chronic diseases, the money spent to eat nutritious food is better viewed as an investment in you. If you create a plan, do the necessary work and use some smart shopping techniques then you may realize it’s not really all that costly in the end. Below are a few tips to help get you started on your new healthy eating plan.
This little piece of advice is essential when trying to stay within
a budget. Once a week, sit down and plan your meals out for the next week. Next, check your pantry and refrigerator for what you already have that may have been pushed to the back. Then make a list of all items you will need to purchase. STICK to your list while shopping and avoid any impulse buying. Don’t go to the store hungry since you will be more apt to buy things that you do not need. That’s pretty simple and straight forward.
Shop the perimeter of the store where most whole foods are located. If you have to venture into the center, look to the top and bottom of the shelves for any necessary items. Retailers set up the grocery shelves in a particular fashion. The less expensive items are placed at the top or bottom of the shelves and more expensive items are at eye level. Get to know the manager of each department to find out what days they usually do their markdowns. It always helps to have some inside information when you are searching for bargains. Most shoppers go to the right when entering a store so that’s where they set up all those impulse sale items. Be different and go to the left so you don’t have to navigate through the temptation.
Stock up when commonly used items are on sale but make sure that you will use them! Buy basic ingredients that are versatile and can be utilized in several different recipes. You don’t need a closet full of cooking oils or exotic spices that you don’t frequently use. If you need a specialty item for a certain recipe you can buy these in smaller quantities at specialty grocers. Good sourced proteins are more expensive so check the markdown bins for grass fed beef, pastured chicken and eggs. Freeze the meat and hard-boil the eggs since they are usually near their expiration date. Shop for produce that is in season. It will be less expensive and more nutritious not having traveled many miles to the store shelf. Frozen vegetables are okay to use if necessary. Be smart and don’t waste your money on purchasing everything organic. Check out the list known as “The Dirty Dozen” on the web and shop wisely. Be willing to do the work and don’t go for the quick and easy. Convenience foods do cost more and are full of unhealthy ingredients. For example, block cheeses are cheaper than shredded, processed foods like rice mixes are more than bags of rice and spices you already own at home. Be creative in the kitchen and whip up your own versions of those boxed rice and pasta mixes. You can get several meals out of a pot of soup rather than just one from a can.
It will always be more expensive to eat out than to cook at home. You will have more control over what goes into your food and how it is prepared. Cook in bulk so you will have leftovers to use for lunches and other recipes for the week. Freeze portions to have on hand for those times you may have unexpected expenditures and need to tighten up your food budget temporarily. Instead of buying lunch everyday at work, pack it. This will save you at minimum $20-25 a week plus you will be eating more nutritious meals. Instead of going out with friends for dinner, invite them over, share the cost of the food and spend time preparing the meal together. This is a great and fun way to spend quality time together. Another creative idea is to plan a menu together with like minded friends, split the work of preparing then share the meals with each other. It is always nice when you don’t have to do all the cooking!
Finally, give an honest look at where you are spending your extra money. Try cutting back on those $4 coffees, bottled waters and lunch out everyday. These little “extras” really add up over time. You only have one body so invest your money caring for it now so you don’t have to spend it all on prescriptions and medical bills down the road.