Contrary to what most people believe, it doesn’t have to be expensive to eat healthy. There are plenty of affordable food choices that are also considered healthy.
Here are some tips to eat healthy and stay within your budget.
Dine out less frequently. Preparing meals at home can not only save you money, but it can also help you stay healthy. Reserve dining out for special occasions. If you do go out to eat, consider ordering water or sharing an entree with a companion.
Plan. Before heading to the store, assess what you already have on hand and plan your meals around those items. Then, check the sales paper for weekly sales to help you complete your meals. Try to plan your meals for the next 5-7 days to avoid multiple trips to the grocery store each week.
Make a list. To save money and time; don’t go to the grocery store without a list. Be sure to include snacks. With a list you are less likely to buy something that you don’t need or forget something that you do need.
Buy fruits and vegetables. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in low quantities when they are in season or on sale. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can be healthy and economical alternatives to fresh and are available year-round. For canned vegetables, look for “No Added Salt” or “Low Sodium” on the label. When shopping for canned fruits, look for those that are canned in “100% fruit juice” or “water” and avoid those canned in syrup. For frozen vegetables, avoid those that include sauces or seasonings as they may have added sodium and fat.
Limit convenience foods. It is healthiest to avoid pre-seasoned or pre-flavored items. Instead, buy the food staple and add your own seasonings at home.
Compare unit prices. The shelf price tag will usually give you the “unit price” as well as the “total price.” Compare unit prices to tell which item is the better deal. Only buy in bulk if you will be able to use the item before it goes bad.
Consider store brands. Store brands are usually cheaper than name brands and they provide the same basic ingredients, meaning nutritionally they are not very different.
Watch portion sizes. Eating smaller portions that reflect the recommendations from the dietary guidelines will not only keep you from overeating, but it can also help stretch your food dollars by making your groceries last longer.