Eat Healthy on the Cheap!

More great advice from our Chief Nutritionist Samantha Mark, RD, CDN:

“Eating healthy costs too much, healthier foods are too expensive.” A lot of people believe that popular adage, and they use it as an excuse for not choosing healthier options on grocery shelves.

In truth, being a savvy shopper–just as when buying clothes, appliances or a car–can help your dollars go a long (and healthier) way!

There are many ways to purchase healthier foods without risking your mortgage or rent money! Here are some easy tips you can follow to stick with a healthy meal plan and a budget.

  1. Only buy what you need. On Sunday, make a list of the meals and snacks you will be having that week, then buy only what you need to fill that meal plan. You’ll avoid overspending on perishable items that may go bad or non-perishable items you might have no taste for later in the week. This will also save you from making impulse purchases on foods you wouldn’t normally use.
  2. Buy food that is in season. We all know fruits and vegetables contain multiple nutrients and should be a part of everyone’s diet. To save money on these nutrition all-stars, purchase produce that is in season (this means it’s plentiful product and affordable). If there is something you love, but cannot finish it, freeze it. For example, maybe at breakfast you only wanted half of a banana but had no one to share it with, wrap it up and toss it in the freezer for later use. Canned products work just as well as fresh or frozen (just purchase low sodium and be sure to rinse and drain).
  3. Avoid convenience packaging. Although, well, convenient,  prepackaged foods (in either individual sizes or super-sized “family” packages) can cost you more in the long run. If you are concerned about portion control (if you purchase a large package), simply open the container and measure out your foods, then place them in small containers or baggies so that you can grab and go as you need it.
  4. Reuse your foods. If you prepared excess food, don’t toss it! Either put it in the fridge if you are going to use in the near future, or place in the freezer. A great example is stew or soup. Simply place the leftover in a few small containers and put in the freezer. Another good example? Any protein. If there are leftover chicken breasts or turkey burgers, keep in the fridge and reuse in a different recipe (try throwing the grilled chicken breast over cold pasta with fresh veggies for a delicious, cost effective pasta salad).
  5. Buy less expensive cuts of meat. Although these cuts may require a bit more tenderizing, they are great for stews or other slow cook recipes (they are typically just a few dollars per pound and can feed a whole family).
  6. Buy foods that are on sale! Sometimes, we are so rushed in the supermarket we forget to check for sale items. Take a few extra minutes to compare prices and check coupons. Store brands tend to be less expensive and are just as tasty as their name-brand counterparts. The nutritional value is usually comparable, so no need to fret.

We’re all looking to save money. Eating healthy doesn’t have to drain your wallet. Simply make a plan, stick to it and follow our tips. With a little practice, eating smart at the right price is well within your reach.

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