Why do healthier foods always seem to cost more? Is it possible to maintain a nutritious diet on a reasonable budget? The short answer…it is! Here are a few tips to help you stay health conscious AND on budget.
- Buy and cook in bulk – At warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco, you can buy many items in bulk for much less. After buying in bulk, separate and freeze if needed.
Spend a little time cooking dishes on the weekends that you can eat during the week, or freeze and use at a later date. A big bowl of bean soup or chili can be dinner as well as lunch for the next day or two. This saves on expensive frozen dinners, trips to the cafeteria, and last-minute detours to the drive-thru.
- Manage the meat – Look for healthy meat like poultry and fish on sale, and freeze for later use to reduce waste. Also, consider swapping more expensive meats for other sources of protein like beans, tofu, or eggs.
- Be season-savvy – Seasonal fruits and vegetables have the best taste, and are often much less pricey than imported out-of-season varieties. You can also look for lower-priced produce in the supermarket. It is usually a day or two old, but much less expensive. Try visiting local farmer’s markets, where produce is often cheap and fresh.
- Go generic – Sometimes generic or private label store brands have the same ingredients that the big brand name products have, but because they aren’t paying the high advertising costs that the big brands are, they can charge less. In some cases, the same manufacturers produce both the generic products and the brand name.
- Plan ahead – Menu planning can help reduce perishable product waste. Head to the store with a good idea of the meals you want to make for the week. Research shows that shoppers without a list tend to buy more food, especially snacks and impulse items!
- Limit junk food – Junk food and prepared frozen foods can often add up to be the most expensive things in your cart. Trade the money you normally would spend on these items for fresh produce or healthy snacks. And try to avoid going to the store hungry, when it’s more difficult to resist temptation.
Source: UnitedHealthcare. Healthy Eating on a Budget. uhctool.com/nutrition_budget