It is a new year, and many are renewing their commitment to healthy eating. However, there is a misconception that healthy eating can cost a family more than their food budget allows, hence making it very challenging to make better food choices. This is simply not a true statement.
There are plenty of resources and tips that families can use to assist them as they grocery shop on a budget. One such resource is from Choose My Plate, which is a website run by the United States Department of Agriculture. This site provides a wide range of resources, including a whole section devoted to “Healthy Eating on a Budget.” We recommend that you check this resource out for yourself: www.choosemyplate.gov/budget.
To get you started, here are a few tips from “Eating Better on a Budget”:
• Before you head to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. Include meals like stews, casseroles or soups, which “stretch” expensive items into more portions. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list for what you need to buy.
• Check the local newspaper, online and at the store for sales and coupons. Ask about a loyalty card for extra savings at stores where you shop. Look for specials or sales on meat and seafood — often the most expensive items on your list.
• Locate the “unit price” on the shelf directly below the product. Use it to compare different brands and different sizes of the same brand to determine which is the best buy.
• It is almost always cheaper to buy foods in bulk. Smart choices are large containers of low-fat yogurt and large bags of frozen vegetables. Before you shop, remember to check if you have enough freezer space.
• Buying fruits and vegetables in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness. If you are not going to use them all right away, buy some that still need time to ripen.
• Certain foods are typically low-cost options all year round. Try beans for a less expensive protein food. For vegetables, buy cabbage, sweet potatoes or low-sodium canned tomatoes. As for fruits, apples and bananas are good choices.
• Restaurants can be expensive. Save money by getting the early bird special, going out for lunch instead of dinner, or looking for “2 for 1” deals. Ask for water instead of ordering other beverages, which adds to the bill.
Additional tips concerning meal planning, aisle by aisle tips, reading food labels and sample recipes can be found on the Choose My Plate website. Again, we encourage readers to use this resource as a starting point to Healthy Eating on a Budget.