It’s February – how are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? Maybe you made a commitment to eat only healthy food, but you’re finding it difficult to stick to your plan when healthy food is making a huge dent in your budget?
Don’t give up! Here are 10 tips for staying within your means while making smart decisions about your diet.
1. Buy Whole Produce
You may be saving some time when you buy bags of sliced mushrooms, shredded carrots or cubed pineapple, but you are paying at least 40 percent more to save yourself just a few minutes. Think about it – is the convenience really worth it? If you agree that it’s not, always choose the whole fruit or vegetable.
2. Purchase Generic Brands
Shopping for organic food is important, but can also be expensive. But now that the organic food movement has taken off, many chains of supermarkets have started selling their own organic brands. Just take a look at your supermarket shelves, and you’ll see a huge saving in prices by going generic.
3. Go Meatless
Meatless Monday has turned into a global movement with a wide network of participating hospitals, schools, worksites and restaurants around the world. By cutting out meat once a week, you can improve your health, reduce your carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change. And you will also save money. Why not try a No Meat Tuesday too?
4. Buy Local
Locally grown, farm-fresh fruits and vegetables are typically picked at their peak, making for delicious ready-to-eat produce. By buying local, you will also avoid all the costs associated with the transportation and packaging of food, not to mention that such produce is generally picked before it ripens and treated, possibly with fungicides, so it can travel and be stored.
5. Buy In Bulk
This only applies to select items: I’m sure we’ve all experienced buying too much produce and having to throw some out. For some select staples, however, it makes sense to buy in bulk. Check out the supermarket “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” specials. Buy a jug of juice rather than juice boxes; if you’re feeding a pet, buy the largest bag of food you can afford. You get the idea!
6. Dig, Plant, Grow
There’s nothing better than picking your dinner from your own backyard, something my husband and I have been doing for a couple of years now. Home-grown tomatoes taste so much better than the supermarket kind. Lettuce, bell peppers and various herbs are easy to grow, but make sure you choose the produce you actually want to eat.
7. Try Frozen Berries
The benefits of berries are well known: low in calories, high in various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and high in fiber. However, fresh berries when not in season (like now!) can be very expensive. So why not opt for frozen berries, which will taste just as good as fresh ones when added to oatmeal or yogurt, or made into fruit drinks like smoothies.
8. Shop Less Often
By using good planning strategies, you can avoid having to make that extra trip to the store when you “unexpectedly” run out of olive oil or cheese. Since I live about three miles from the nearest store, the money I spend on gas adds up with just a few of those trips. Plan wisely and think ahead!
9. Look Beyond The Food Market
You’re used to buying food at the supermarket, but start widening your horizons. These days you’ll find food alongside home furnishings and women’s clothing in stores like Target and World Market. And you’ll save even more by using discount gift cards from these stores.
10. Clip Coupons
Coupons are not only available for packaged, processed food, which you know is bad for you. You can find coupons for a wide variety of foods, if you know where to look. Safeway and Whole Foods, for example, have coupons available online and through their own apps, so why not go online and see if your local supermarket has that option?
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