By: Nancy Wagner
Many people tell me it’s too expensive to eat healthy. While it’s true that a big part of your budget probably goes towards food each week, the following strategies might help you save money.
- Plan ahead. Look at store flyers and online coupons and plan your meals according to what’s on sale. Planning your meals for the week or at least 5-6 days will help you avoid more costly last-minute splurges. “I’m too tired to plan dinner and cook, let’s just get pizza.”
- Make a shopping list and stick to it. Impulse or unplanned buying can greatly increase your spending.
- Get to know the store(s) you shop in and its employees. Some stores put ‘almost outdated’ meat or less-than-perfect produce on sale first thing in the morning. Some stores start their sales on Thursdays, others on Saturdays.
- Meat is expensive. Making mixed meals with less meat or no meat and more rice/beans/vegetables will save money. Think burritos/tacos, stew and stir fry.
- Buy sale meats in family packs and freeze the extra for another week. Or double or triple your recipe and freeze individual, already-cooked meals to pull out as needed.
- Plan ahead for busy nights. Pack sandwiches, sliced apples and veggies for an athlete to eat on the way to that dance practice or basketball game, and for family members to eat during the game or practice.
- Buy fruits and vegetables in season. They will taste better and will cost less. While we all need a good variety of fruits and vegetables it’s okay to eat more berries and garden vegetables in the summer, more apples in the fall and more oranges in the winter. If you have room to garden make it a fun family project. You could coordinate what you grow with your neighbors and each share your harvest.
- Freeze leftovers. Keep a container or freezer bag in the freezer. Add leftover vegetables instead of throwing them away. When you get enough quantity, make a soup or casserole.
These are just a few strategies to help with your food budget. Many more great ideas can be found at www.choosemyplate.gov and www.eatright.org. These sites can also assist you in determining if you qualify for benefits through WIC or SNAP.
Nancy Wagner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator at Copley Hospital. She provides health and wellness to Copley employees through screenings, education and fun activities; educates patients regarding their nutrition and diabetes needs; and works with community members providing education to schools and businesses. Nancy enjoys helping others learn new things about nutrition, their health habits, and their chronic diseases.