A common misconception among grocery shoppers is that buying healthy foods is more expensive than buying unhealthy, pre-packaged foods. While it may seem as if it’s cheaper to buy a meal-in-a-box, buying the ingredients to make healthy and nutritious meals is actually less expensive. Here are a few tips to eating healthy on a budget.
Cook from Scratch
- When buying meals-in-a-box, shoppers are actually paying for convenience. Buying pre-packaged foods instead of fresh foods is trading convenience for nutrition since pre-packaged foods are also full of sodium, calories, fat, and sugar. Pre-packaged foods actually cost more than making foods from scratch. While cooking from scratch may take a little more time, it can be worth it in terms of saving money and getting more vitamins and nutrients from food.
- If a recipe calls for certain fruits and vegetables, buy frozen or canned fruits and veggies. While fresh produce is preferable, fresh is a bit more expensive than frozen or canned produce. However, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can provide the same health benefits as fresh produce.
- Sit down one day a week to plan weekly meals, creating a list of the ingredients needed to make all planned meals. Take this list to the store and be sure to stick to the list. Also, look for sales on needed items or buy the generic version.
- It’s never a good idea to shop on an empty stomach because more food is usually bought than is actually needed. Eat a small snack before heading off to do food shopping or bring along some healthy snacks just in case hunger strikes. This will cut down on trips to the drive-thru.
- Use coupons, but be careful not to use coupons for items that aren’t normally bought. If there are certain food items that are bought consistently in which there is no coupon to be found, visit the manufacturer’s website since most food manufacturers offer coupons for their most popular foods.
Eat Out Less Often
Opting to eat at home is cheaper and healthier than eating out. Most restaurant meals are made up of super-sized portions and are high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. It’s usually more expensive to eat out than making the same or similar dish at home.
A way to save money on fresh produce is to grow one’s own garden, or if that isn’t possible, visiting a local farmer’s market. If visiting a farmer’s market, try to go near the end of the day when most vendors drop their prices.