Food prices are projected to increase as much as 3.5 percent in 2012, causing many families who are already on a tight budget to scrimp and save even more at the supermarket. Every penny counts when you are on a budget. Fortunately, saving money and eating healthy are two goals that are not as difficult to achieve as you might think. Following these 5 tips can help you not only eat more healthy, but save your hard-earned money in the process.
1. Avoid Prepared foods Almost everyone knows that eating processed and prepared foods not only costs more, but that these foods are less healthy in the long run. Prepared foods often contain high amounts of fat, carbohydrates, and sodium. These foods may seem like a good deal at the supermarket because they are either already made or they only require reheating.
2. Focus on basic, healthy ingredients. Many people believe that healthy ingredients must be expensive. This isn't necessarily the case. Some staples, such as brown rice, frozen vegetables, and Greek yogurt, are not only healthy, but inexpensive as well. Other consumers avoid buying healthy foods because they believe that these foods are time-consuming to prepare. However, there are many meals that you can either make ahead or make quickly using nutritious, inexpensive ingredients, such as:
- Grilled chicken tacos on whole-wheat tortillas
- Garden salad
- Red beans and brown rice
- Fruit salad with low-fat Greek yogurt
- Chicken stir fry made with frozen vegetables and brown rice
3. Buy seasonally. Some healthy foods, such as strawberries, are generally available year-round, but they are very expensive when purchased out of season. For example, the strawberries that you purchase in the winter are probably either grown in a hothouse or are imported from abroad. These berries may even be near their expiration date because of the shipping time, which means that many of their nutrients may have leached out.
Buy fruits and vegetables in season to ensure that you get the most nutritious and least expensive produce. In addition, buying produce in-season rotates items in and out of your diet, helping you to eat a more balanced diet and introducing a wider range of foods into your menu.
4. Buy local produce and meats. Locally-produced meats and produce are often less expensive because they do not have to be shipped from abroad or from across the country. In addition, local foods are usually fresher, which means that they will taste better and have retained more nutrients. In addition to these benefits, buying locally helps area farmers and ranchers, which in turn provides jobs and stimulates the local economy. It should be mentioned that you should always ensure that your meat is thoroughly cooked and avoid certain types of lunch meats.
5. Shop sales and stock up. Supermarkets put healthy staples on sale regularly. Every supermarket has a different cycle for placing specific items on sale. For example, some supermarkets place fish on sale every 4 weeks whereas others alternate the individual seafood items that go on sale. Learn the sales cycle for your favorite supermarket and buy as many sale items as you can store. Then, freeze the items or make them into foods that can be frozen, like a healthy fruit salad. This way, you can enjoy a variety of healthy foods whenever you want them.
Alaina is a stay at home mom and self proclaimed foodie. She writes for various sites and urges readers to check out the neat pregnancy calculator week by week - she's found it to be very helpful!