Grocery shopping on a budget? These tips will ensure you eat healthy every day without making a dent in your wallet.
Managing a household is a big responsibility, whether you live alone or with family. But managing a household on a budget is something else entirely.
The moment you realize that you need to cut down on your expenses, any kind of shopping becomes a stressful task, especially when you feel like you need to compromise the healthful eating of your family to stick to that budget.
Even if it seems impossible to eat healthy while on a budget, you will be surprised by how much a little thoughtful planning can help. The following tips can help you and your family eat nutritious meals every day while staying on a budget.
Eat Home-Cooked Meals
Remember when your mom used to say “We have food at home” every time you wanted to stop by at some restaurant? Once you grow up and have to spend your own hard-earned money, you realize that you do have food at home.
Eating your meals at home cuts down on your expenses drastically, especially when you include your coffee runs. When you stop eating out for lunch and ordering take-out for dinners, you will realize how much money you can save.
Cook your meals, pack your lunches, and bring coffee from home so that you don’t pay an expensive and unhealthy visit to an eatery.
When you follow a particular diet or a different lifestyle, cooking your meals becomes the most cost-effective thing you can do. If you are vegetarian or vegan, following a blog like The Picky Eater can help you find recipes and plan your weekly meals.
Cook with What You Already Have
Healthy eating starts at home, so begin with what you already have. Letting the food you have stored in your pantry, fridge, or freezer go to waste is something you cannot afford to do.
Go through your food storage and salvage what you can before you decide that you have “nothing at home” to cook with. There are plenty of websites like MyFridgeFood, SuperCook, etc, that tell you what you can cook, based on the food available at your house.
By cooking with the food you already have, you cut down the expense of buying more groceries and also make use of your stored food. Always go through your storage based on how quickly an item might expire.
Either cook your perishables or cut them and freeze them. You can also cook them and freeze them for eating at a later date.
Plan Meals Based On Nutrition
There are many misconceptions about healthy eating, and people often don’t realize how much that can hamper your health. The key to nutritious meals is following a balanced diet. This means that no matter what, you should not cut down on your portions of what your body needs every day.
You will find plenty of online resources that can help you figure out your DRI or dietary reference intake based on your age, height, and weight.
Figuring this out can help you understand how much protein, carbs, fiber, etc. you need for your body. Taking a little time out and figuring these things out can ensure that you can plan your meals effectively and eat nutritious food every day.
Making a Grocery List on Budget
Understanding you’re and your loved ones’ nutritional needs can help you understand what you need to buy. Do some meal planning before making your list.
If you shop for the following week or biweekly, think of all the meals you can make on each day of that week. There are some cheap meals you can make for only £1 per head, so consider adding those dishes to your weekly menu.
Don’t hesitate to make large batches of food so that you can freeze it and reheat it on another day. This way, you can buy more of some products which are cheaper when bought in bulk, like grains or pasta.
By considering your menu for the following week first, you can buy exactly what you need without buying too much of something, especially perishables that can spoil if not used. If you do end up buying more, use it before it gets bad.
Don’t Stray From Your List While Shopping
We all know how tempting it is to get distracted by a new product launch or random food cravings. But if you want to eat nutritious meals every day on a budget, don’t stray from your shopping list!
You have to stay strong even when the sample tasters and persuasive salespeople are pushing you to give in. Remember not to visit the grocers when you are hungry because an empty stomach always leads to unwanted snacking.
Focus On Seasonal Produce
Have you ever noticed that some produce is cheaper during certain times of the year and expensive during others? This is because fruits and vegetables are cheaper during their season. When they are being freshly harvested and sold, they cost less.
When those same perishables are expensive, know that they have been taken out from cold storage where they have been for a long time. Cold storage produce often tastes bad and is decked with preservatives so that it can be stored for a long time.
Focus on seasonal produce instead of stored produce. Refer to a seasonal calendar to know what is in season, and plan your meals around those items. By doing so, you are opting for the healthier option without affecting your savings.
Bulk Buy Fresh Produce During Season & Freeze Them
Don’t shy away from bulk buying fresh produce while they are in season. Bulk buying perishables is often risky as they will spoil before you use them. However, if you bulk-buy the produce, process, and freeze them, none of it will go to waste.
There is no one way of processing your excess produce. You can preserve some simply by cutting them and storing them in the freezer in ziplock bags. Some items, like tomatoes, you can use to make large batches of pasta sauce, that you can store in the fridge or freeze for later use.
Some leafy greens can be blanched and stored for up to a year! You can make jam out of fruits, pickle some of the vegetables, etc. How you store them is up to you, and the options are endless.
Avoid Buying Highly Processed Food
People often think that buying highly processed food is cheaper than fresh food. They do not realize that it couldn’t be further from the truth. We often buy ready-made cookies or instant mac and cheese for what we think is less money.
However, if you buy the ingredients and make large batches of the same items, the cost per unit is much less than that of the processed version of the same food. You can easily store the excess in your freezer and enjoy it for a long time.
Processed foods like sauces, biscuits, and cereals are full of harmful additives and unhealthy sugars, which will harm your health in the long term.
If your children always throw a tantrum for some snack they love, learn how to make it for them. If you have a favorite snack, make it and save yourself from its unhealthy, processed versions.
Don’t Be Afraid To Buy Frozen or Canned Food
The image of healthy eating has been tainted with the idea of eating organic items or expensive superfoods. People forget that it is important to get those nutrients into your body first. So, while on a budget, you should never turn away from buying frozen or canned food.
Both frozen and canned food often have the same nutritional value as their fresh variety. To top that, they often come with a longer shelf life, which makes it easier to buy them in bulk.
Frozen berries and other fruits and veggies are a cheaper and less time-consuming alternative for fresh ingredients.
Canned fish, tofu, meat, and beans are a great alternative for the more expensive fresh variety. By eating canned protein at least once or twice a week, you can fulfill your protein requirement without having to spend a lot of money.
Make Large Batches & Eat Your Leftovers
As mentioned a few times before, bulk buying can lead to making large batches of food. But never let that excess go to waste. Freeze them and enjoy them later so that you can save both time and money.
If you have leftovers from dinners like extra veggies or meat, use them to make breakfast or lunch the next day. Try your hardest not to let any extra food spoil and be thrown away. To save money, you must also learn to save food.
Now that you know that it is entirely possible to eat nutritious meals on a budget, create your meal plans to eat healthy every day.