I just got back from the grocery store. It makes me wish that the answer to my mother’s old question, “Do you think money grows on trees?” was a resounding, “Yes, it does!” Well, since we all know that isn’t the case, here are a few tips on healthy eating on a budget.
Write out a shopping list. Wandering aimlessly aisle to aisle not only ensures that you will forget something important, it will likely cost you more money. Before going to the grocery store, take an inventory of your kitchen. This will help you to prevent duplication, and ensure that you will not inadvertently stock up on perishable items that will reach their expiration date long before you can eat them.
Check grocery circulars for sales and coupons, but use them wisely. If you purchase an item because it’s on sale, or 2-for-1, but it’s something you would never buy otherwise, this isn’t really a bargain. On the other hand, if something you regularly use goes on sale, stock up! Remember that meat should not be the star of your meal. Keeping portion sizes at 3 ounces (roughly the size of a deck of cards) means more servings per package. Buying meat on sale and freezing it in ready to cook portions will save you time and money.
Purchase produce carefully. If you won’t use it before it spoils, don’t buy it. It might make sense for you to buy frozen veggies, a nutritious alternative to fresh. You might also want to buy a smaller amount of produce rather than the pre-packaged produce on the shelf. That one pound bag of green beans is not a bargain if they go bad before you cook them.
Don’t go shopping when you are hungry. This one needs no explanation, but is an important strategy to avoid over-spending.
Happy, healthy shopping (and eating) to you all.
--Rosemarie Lembo James, RD, CNSD, LD/N
Clinical Director, Nutrition Services