Healthy Meals on a Budget
Some tricks to pinching pennies at the grocery store while still enjoying nutritious and delicious foods.
1. Buy produce in season – In season produce not only tastes the best but also is the least expensive. For example if you buy strawberries in the summer it will cost $2.99 vs. the winter at $4.99
2. Eat more beans – Beans are economical and versatile. You can make bean salads, hummus, Indian dishes, vegetable soup, chili, Mexican bean dips, stir them into whole-grain pasta—the list goes on and on. Your family will never catch on to the fact that they’re eating beans most nights of the week. Beans are high in protein and fiber.
3. Vegetarian Meals – Eat more vegetarian meals. Organic animal protein can get expensive, so try vegetarian options like beans, legumes, tofu and veggies.
4. Chop your veggies – Spend more time in the kitchen than spending money on convenience. Even though those healthy convenience foods look appealing, they can cost you. For example, a prepackaged bag of lettuce costs $4.49, instead buy a head of romaine lettuce and cut it yourself for the cost of $1.99. This can end up saving lots of money in the long run.
5. Buy in bulk – Shop the bulk section of your supermarket for things like grains, oats, flours and nuts, etc. The bulk section offers big discounts, as you aren’t paying for packaging. Also buy bulk for fruits. Buying a bag of apples for example may cost $10 but it will last you several weeks.
6. Go local – Buy as many local foods as possible. Produce from local farmers is cheap, incredibly tasty, and chock full of more vitamins since it spends far less time being transported to your plate. Check out www.localharvest.org to find a CSA (community supported agriculture) or farmers market in your area.
7. Don’t shop while you’re hungry – You’ll be tempted to stray from your weekly budget with unnecessary items such as chips and cookies. Eat a healthy snack like a handful of almonds or a piece of fruit right before shopping.
8. Buy 365 Brand – People always complain that Whole Foods is overly expensive. But if you purchase their 365 brands you will save BIG time. Whole foods is rolling out with more and more of their own branded items so make sure to check the shelves.
9. Cook once, eat twice – Make a meal last over several days. If you can plan ahead, your ingredients will go farther. Make a big pot of brown rice or quinoa and it can last several days and make several meals. Use it for stir-fry, as a salad and a rice pudding dessert.
10. Brown Bag it! – Packing your own lunch will save you big bucks, too. A sandwich at a local NYC café will cost you $8.50 (or more)! Making your own lunch also allows you to have complete control over the ingredients in your meal, helping you eat healthier and lose weight.