Recently I had a conversation with a friend about how hard it is to eat healthy food because it is so expensive. Food costs are definitely going up, and unfortunately, the grocery budget is usually the first place people scale back. As prices continue to increase, I want to encourage you to put food first.
Produce (fruits and vegetables), or what I call “LIVE” food, is the best stuff you can buy and eat. Unfortunately, many people pass it up because it’s cheaper to buy processed food or they just don’t know what to do with the produce and it just goes to waste. But it’s important to realize that while fresh produce (and especially organic produce) may cost more, you are getting MORE value for your dollar. Vegetables and fruits pack SO much more nutritional value than processed food. So, you have more bang for your buck.
Here are a few strategies you can use to buy healthy food on a budget:
1. Choose 4-5 main vegetables per week and 2 secondary ones (per 2 adult portions): Example: broccoli, sweet potatoes, salad mix, and zucchini, with red onion, and red pepper.
2. Meal Plan: This is the key to not wasting what you buy. Plan ahead and buy what you need.
3. Follow the EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean 15: Buying organic is important, but not everything needs to be organic. Follow these guides to know what conventional produce you can save & on.
4. Eat seasonally: A tomato in August will be a lot cheaper than one in January, and it will taste SO much better.
5. Eat less meat: Instead of making a 6 oz. steak or a whole breast of chicken per person each night, eat vegetarian a few nights a week or use meat as a flavoring rather than the main item. For example: make a veggie stir-fry with ONE chicken breast for 4 people. You will save your $$ by cutting back on meat.
6. Double up on ingredients when on sale and plan your week around those: If you see tomatoes and red onion on sale, then get a bunch and make salsa (add in cilantro, green pepper, lime juice and corn). Use this salsa as a chip dip, a topping for tacos or faijtas, a dressing for chicken with rice, or a base for a mexican chicken soup.
7. Don’t forget frozen and to freeze: Frozen foods are great nutritional value and often cheaper. Also, freeze what you have leftover if you are not going to eat it right away.
Apply some of these suggestions to your next grocery trip and start saving.