Watching what you eat isn’t only about following the food pyramid. Recently, there’s been an increased interest in the link between good nutrition and a long, healthy life, drawing more attention than ever to the quality of the food we eat.
However, buying organic produce, meat and poultry and eating locally can make a significant impact on your bank account. So how do you balance providing the best for your family with your grocery shopping budget? These five tips will help you get the most bang for your buck:
Look for seasonal and local fruits and veggies. Start at your local farmer’s market for savings on local produce. If you can’t find everything you want there, go for the in-season items at the grocery store, in addition to common items such as apples, oranges, bananas, carrots and broccoli. If you must have something that’s out of season, look for it in the frozen food section. For even more savings, stick with the store brands, which have the same quality standards as national brands without the high price tag.
Choose quality meat and poultry over quantity. On average, Americans tend to eat more meat than necessary. Limit dinner portions to 5-6 ounces for men and 3-4 ounces for women and children. By buying less, you should be able to choose higher-quality cuts of meat, fish and dairy. You can also try buying direct form online purveyors who will ship directly overnight.
Get creative with alternative protein sources and grains. If meat and poultry are still proving to be too expensive, seek out different ways to provide your family with protein, such as beans, lentils and tofu. In the grain department, look for unprocessed whole grains that are high in fiber. Prices for brown rice, bulgar, faro, oats and high-protein pastas are generally stable and low, so consider buying in bulk.
Say no to prepackaged and processed foods. Don’t let convenience sabotage your budget and your healthy lifestyle! Most pre-prepared meals can be made from scratch at home for less with just a little planning. Get together with a friend or enlist your husband to help you make a week or a month’s work of dinners and freeze them. If a certain recipe is calling your name, double the portions and freeze half for another quick, convenient meal option. If you’re cooking skills are limited, start with one or two easy recipes and work your way up until you can master a few different meals a week.
Make a list and stick to it! Take the time to plan out the week’s meals to avoid impulse purchases once you’re in the store. These items tend to be processed foods with little to no nutritional value, adding unnecessary dollars to your total.
Women, Spring 2011