Healthy Eating on a Budget

  1. Purchase produce in season. Produce that is in season is cheaper and usually at its peak in nutrients and flavor than when it is out of season. Why? When produce is in season, there is a larger supply decreasing cost. Produce grown out of season is either grown in greenhouses (which costs more to heat & water) or travels long distances (which costs more to transport) increasing cost of the product.
  2. Go for frozen or canned products. Frozen and canned foods are equally as healthy as fresh products. Canned and frozen foods are picked at their peak of ripeness maximizing flavor and nutritional value and processed within hours of harvest preserving nutrients. Frozen and canned foods are generally cheaper than fresh products making them excellent options when looking to save money. In addition, they have a longer shelf life decreasing your food waste. But what about the amount of sodium in canned foods? Choose low sodium canned products and give them a quick drain and rinse to cut sodium by 41%.
  3. Embrace plant based proteins. Plant based proteins such as beans are significantly cheaper than animal proteins. Beans and legumes are also high in fiber and other nutrients. Consider replacing meats with beans once or twice per week to lower your food costs.
  4. Plan your meals. Before going grocery shopping, scan your fridge and pantry for ingredients you have on hand, plan meals incorporating those ingredients and make a shopping list of what you need. Choose recipes that call for similar ingredients so when you by a container or bundle of a product, you use most of it that week. When shopping without a plan, you end up buying what looks appetizing at the moment and more than what you need. Because you have not planned your meals, some of the fresh ingredients you purchased end up going to waste, essentially throwing away your hard earned money. Be smart and plan ahead to keep your money out of the trash can.
  5. Compare prices. On the price tag at the grocery store, there is the retail price and unit price. It’s easy to look at the retail price to determine what is cheaper as it is in larger print. However, to get the true product comparison, look at the unit price which tells you the cost of the product per pound, ounce, quart, etc. Try this insider trick to maximize your savings!
  6. Cook! Preparing meals at home is cheaper than purchasing prepared food in the grocery store or at restaurants. When you are purchasing prepared food, you are paying for the ingredients, labor, and other costs the vendor took on to prepare the meal for you. For example, preparing a salad at home costs $1-$3 per serving compared to $7-$15 dollars at a restaurant. Save your money and prepare meals for yourself.

– Ivy Mumo

Registered Dietitian

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