By: Dr. Todd Eibes, M.D., F.A.C.S., Weight Loss Surgeon, & Lia Bahls, Registered Dietician Iowa Weight Loss Specialists
Many people believe that eating healthy means spending a lot of money on organic food. But eating healthy does not have to break the bank. We’ve compiled some simple tips for you to consider. Keep in mind that junk food is expensive and is certainly not necessary for your body. Consider the amount of money you spend on unhealthy snacks throughout the week and use those funds for healthier purchases.
1. First and foremost, plan your meals! This does not mean that you have to write out everything you’re going to eat for the week. While that may be beneficial, it just means that you should have at least a few meals written down when you head to the store. Not only will this save you money by knowing exactly what you need, but it will also save you time throughout the week. Planning meals also generally prevents overconsumption. Package up your meals on a designated “prep day” or the night before so in the morning you are ready to go!
2. Watch for sales. Check your local grocery store circular to see what is on sale and use these sales to help plan your meals for the week.
3. Stick to your grocery list! Your list should be based on the meal plan you have for the week, not what’s on the “special offer” counter as you walk in the door.
4. Don’t shop when you’re hungry! I’m sure you’ve heard this before but absolutely do not shop when you are hungry! This leads to impulse purchases, which tend to be unhealthy choices.
5. Cook at home and prepare food for lunch. Going out to eat adds up quickly. Try a week without going out to eat at all. Pay attention to the amount of money you save compared to the week before when you went out to eat.
6. Embrace leftovers. Cook a larger meal so you can have a “freebie” meal a day or so later (or perhaps for lunch). This will save you time and money. If you don’t like eating the same meal over and over, turn leftovers into something new. Chicken and vegetables can be made into a soup or a stir-fry. Some leftovers can be thrown into a salad. Use leftovers for your kid’s “after school” snack – much healthier than processed snacks from the pantry. Be creative!
7. Buy whole foods. Purchasing a block of cheddar cheese is cheaper than buying a bag of shredded cheddar cheese. Getting large carrots that need to be cut and peeled is cheaper than buying baby carrots. However, make sure you have or make the time to prepare and prep these foods so you don’t end up wasting more than you save.
8. Purchase store or generic brands. Make sure to check the ingredients list, but for the most part, store brands are of the same quality as name brands.
9. Stock up. When a product you like is on sale and is non-perishable and something you know you’ll use, then purchase a few extra to have on hand.
10. Buy fresh and freeze. Buy produce when it is in season, stock up and freeze it. Avoid buying fresh produce of products that are not in season, these tend to be pricier options.
11. Purchase frozen. When fruit and veggies aren’t in season, buy them frozen. These are generally just as nutritious and typically cheaper.
12. Select cheaper cuts of meat. You can use a slow cooker to tenderize some of the tougher cuts. Whole chicken is generally cheaper by weight and will provide leftovers that you can freeze for meals at a later time and use for broth for soups.
13. Use whole grains, lentils, and beans. These foods are inexpensive and nutritious and provide added fiber and protein to meals.
14. Use your frozen meals. Take a week and clean out your freezer, this will save you a week of shopping!