Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eating Well on a Budget

Every month we offer grocery store tours to help individuals navigate their way around the often overwhelming supermarket. One of the common misconceptions we hear is that eating well can take a toll on your bank account.

We're here to set the record straight.

It's not necessarily true that when you're strapped for cash, your health needs to fall to the wayside. There are plenty of ways you can eat for your health while sticking to a lean budget.

Here are 10 of our budget & health friendly shopping tips.

1. Let your list (rather than your cravings) be your guide. We all know that shopping on an empty stomach can be a disaster. If you shop when you’re starving, you may ultimately buy too much or make choices you regret soon after. Instead, nourish yourself with a meal or snack before you shop. Face it – when your tummy is grumbling, almost everything in the store looks appealing. This leads us to our next tip…

2. Make a plan of attack. Before you head to the grocery store, plan a few meals for the week. Pick out a new recipe or two – or just stick to your usual favorites. Either way, we recommend including meals like stews, soups, stir-fries, or pasta dishes which “stretch” expensive items such as fish, poultry, and beef into more portions. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list for what you need to buy.

3. Peruse the perimeter. Most real & affordable foods are found outside of the aisles. When you do visit the aisles, have a purpose and direction in mind. Remember, let your list be your guide.
4. Buy seasonal. Fruits and vegetables are cheaper, tastier, and most nutritious when purchased in season. Shop your farmer’s market or supermarket to find seasonal items like asparagus in the spring, strawberries in the summer and kale in the fall.

5. Choose your fruits & veggies wisely. If you’re on a limited budget and have to pick and choose your organic produce, spend the extra money for the Dirty Dozen in their organic form and buy the Clean Fifteen in their conventional form.

6. Choose your animal products wisely. It’s true that purchasing sustainably and organically farmed animal products cost more – but, Americans eat more meet than they need to. Buying higher cost, quality meats but eating less of them is an excellent way to balance the costs. When it comes to animal products, think: quality over quantity.

7. Embrace the bulk bins. Buying from bulk bins is an affordable way to add spices, dried fruits, nuts, beans, legumes and grains to your meals. First, you are not paying for packaging, labeling and advertising from canned or pre-bagged foods. And second, you only buy what you need, so you’re less likely to throw away food.

8. Cook to make your future self happy. Prepare a large batch of a favorite recipe on your day off and freeze the leftovers in individual containers. Your future self will be so happy you did. We love these containers by Martha Stewart 

You can see more of the products we love on our Pinterest page:

 ...use them throughout the week to save money spent on take-out meals.
9. Use your freezer. When you see some of your favorite items on sale, stock up and freeze. This is a great way to save on local or organic fish, poultry and meat.

10. Reduce waste. Don’t let leftovers go to waste. Freeze leftover soups, stews, sauces and casseroles. Or use leftovers from last night’s chicken dinner to make a delicious sandwich or wrap for lunch at work.

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