One of the easiest traps to fall into when money is tight is to eat unhealthy foods. Healthy foods seem to be so expensive, after all. However, there are ways to save money while eating healthier foods. Yes, you can skip the ramen noodle section of your grocery store and still feed your family well.
What’s the trick? Planning!
Whether you work at home or outside the home, your life can often be so hectic that it just seems simpler to order pizza or cook prepackaged convenience foods. However, these are typically much less healthy for you than foods you cook yourself.
Start by picking out the recipes you would like to make. Deciding on what you are serving ahead of time can keep you from deciding on something less healthy but easier to make just because you don’t feel like taking the time to cook the healthier food.
If time is a major issue, consider recipes where you can prepare it partially or fully in advance. There are people who do an entire week’s cooking in one day, storing the meals in the refrigerator or freezer. Even if you can’t entirely prepare the meal in advance, consider chopping the vegetables in advance.
Planning your meals in advance also helps with your grocery shopping. Use your plans to create your shopping list. You may even want to plan your meals at the same time as you plan your shopping list by taking a look at what is on special at whichever grocery stores you plan to shop at. Buying items that are on special can save you quite a bit of money. You may even want to stock up.
To save as much as possible, limit yourself to what is on that list. No impulse purchases! It takes self discipline, but cutting back on impulse items can be a huge help.
They may seem expensive, but fruits and vegetables that are in season are actually quite affordable, and can be an excellent alternative to sugary or salty snacks. Their frozen counterparts are also quite good for you and may be quite affordable.
If you have space in the freezer, buy meats when they are at their best discount. You will want to keep track of what a good price is for each kind of meat. You will also want to be aware of when products get marked down. I know that my local Albertson’s, for example, generally marks their ground beef from the butcher department to $1/pound somewhere around 9 o’clock every evening. Guess what time I shop there when I need ground beef?
Make the most of your leftovers. It’s all to easy to forget them and have to clean out the fridge several days later. Wasted food is money you’re throwing out. Pull those leftovers out for lunch!
Finally, pay attention to how you’re cooking your food. You may not need as much oil as you’ve been using, for example. Stir frying can be a great way to mix your meat and vegetables up with a delicious sauce. Drain the grease when you cook ground beef to make it a little healthier. Trim excess fat from other meats to make them just a little better for you. And don’t forget to eat your vegetables! Try mixing them up with some spices rather than butter… there are wonderful ways to bring out the flavors of vegetables.