How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Plan your weekly meals around the specials. Find out what the weekly specials are. Branch out and check the ads of competing grocery stores too. Use what you have, check your freezer, refrigerator, and cupboards and use what you already have in meals. Shop with a grocery list and stick to it. Buy only what’s on your list and say “no” to impulse purchases. Buy in season and you can save money by purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. Buy local – check your local farmer’s market to save money on fruits and vegetables. Locally grown produce is typically less expensive and fresher than what you’d find at the grocery store. Go meatless – meat is typically the most expensive part of a meal. Use beans in your meals a few times a week to save money, beans are a good source of protein and fiber and are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Do your own prep – save money by washing and cutting up your own food. Buy a head of lettuce and cut it up yourself instead of buying a bag of pre-washed and cut lettuce. Buy a bunch of carrots and peel and cut them yourself instead of buying a bag of baby carrots. We live in a world of convenience; however, the extra five minutes you spend preparing your own food will save you money.
Go generic – compare prices between brand name food items and generic. Buying groceries at a superstore such as Target will also save you money on common food items. Buy whole wheat bread on sale since it can be expensive. Buy more than one loaf when it’s on sale and keep a loaf in your freezer to use later. Buy in bulk, check the bulk bins at your grocery store. This is a great place to find whole grains, nuts, seeds and etc. Always shop after you’ve eaten, even if it’s just a snack to tide you over until you get home. If you shop on an empty stomach, anything and everything will look or sound good. It will be hard to make a healthy decision and stick to your grocery list.
Read food labels – get into the habit of reading food labels and learn how to use the % Daily Value to compare similar products. Choose products with a relatively short ingredient list. The shorter the list, the fewer colorings, flavoring, chemicals, and added sugar it probably contains.
Get some extra steps in while you’re shopping – walk an extra lap around the store and take your shopping cart or somebody else’s back inside instead of leaving it in the parking lot. Every little bit of physical activity counts when it comes to losing weight. Park further away from the store and walk back instead of parking at the door. These are just a few tips that will help you on your way to being healthier.
For more information contact Lethia Lee, EFNEP Assistant with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 910-592-7161.