How to Save Money on Groceries and Eat Healthy

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You can save money at the grocery store without giving up healthy foods. The key is to keep a kitchen inventory and plan your meals based on what’s on sale. Stock up on bulk, canned and frozen foods when they’re available at reasonable price, and buy only enough perishables to last until the next shopping trip.

Always check your kitchen Inventory before shopping to see what you have in the freezer, refrigerator, and cabinets to make sure that you don’t purchase items that you already have. You should make a list of everything you find either on paper or digitally. I prefer to keep a digital list and that way I can store what I have in my phone and access it while I am in the store. When I see items on sale, I can check my list to see how much I have at home; it might be worth picking it up if I see a good deal, and I know I’ll use it before it expires.

We need to plan our meals for a week, or at least, think about some of the foods you plan on preparing, or what you like to have on hand. Take a look at the ads for your local grocery store or look at their website to see what’s on sale. Mix and match your meals so you can make the most of the least expensive items. When you plan your meals, choose several recipes that use the same perishable ingredients. For example, if chicken breast are on sale, plan on roasted chicken breasts one night and chicken Caesar wraps later in the week.

Plan for left overs. Suppose roast beef is on sale, and you don’t want three nights of it. Go ahead and prepare some homemade frozen meals that you can store in the freezer. Freeze your foods in microwave-safe containers, or make foil pouches that can be popped into the oven. Planning your meals takes time, but you’ll save money.

Here are just a few more tips. Buy a water filter pitcher instead of expensive individual bottles of water. Buy bulk items when they are on sale; same with canned goods, frozen vegetables, fish and seafood. Buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself. When meats are on sale, you can buy larger qualities and freeze individual pieces in the freezer. Use freezer paper or freezer bags so you don’t end up with freezer burn.

Look for coupons online and in the newspapers and magazines. Use dry beans as a protein source, they are much cheaper than meats (think black beans in your burritos instead of beef). Fresh produce is often a good buy especially when in season but choose carefully and don’t buy more than what you’ll be able to consume within a few days, so you don’t waste any due to spoilage. Look for different ways to prepare your foods so your meals don’t get dull. Potatoes can be baked, boiled, roasted or mashed.

Planning and cooking small meals might not feel like it’s worth your time, especially since recipes are typically designed for four to six people. Isn’t it just easier to go out to eat or pick up something on the way home? Ok I’ll admit that’s probably true. It is simpler to buy dinner than it is to make it, but there’s something special about a home cooked meal.

If you need additional information about saving money on your grocery bill while still eating healthy, contact Lethia Lee Sampson County Cooperative Extension at 910-592-7161.

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