We heard from people who find it challenging to eat healthy on a budget. It’s such a great question and many folks, especially students, want to eat well and struggle with where to start. Some of you may feel that you have no choice but to buy more expensive processed foods because you believe you can’t afford good nutrition. There are many ways you can stretch your food dollar without sacrificing your health. Here are just FIVE tips to help you get started with making the most of your food dollar and eat well.
- Plan your meals
Planning menus ahead lets you buy just what you need and stay on budget. It’s also a good way to avoid wasted food and help you lower you food costs. Planning reduces the time and stress of unplanned shopping trips and last minute dilemmas ‘what’s for dinner’. Before you go shopping think about what foods you’d like to eat/prepare. Know your food budget and adjust your menus as needed.
- Prepare a shopping list.
Studies show that keeping a running grocery list is a great way to stay on track – it jogs your memory, saves money at the store, saves time too. It also keeps you from buying what you don’t need. Bottom line: Write a list and STICK TO IT.
During Covid 19 many people prefer a paper list so they don’t have to handle their phones in the grocery store. When you prepare your list organize the items you need by category to match the store layout – for example, produce for veg and fruit, dairy, meat, bakery , frozen and grocery. We created this terrific Be Well Efficient shopping list that you can download from our website to help create your shopping list. Clicking on this link and then the image for your copy of the Be Well! Efficient Grocery Shopping List.
- Stock up on healthy staples that are on sale.
Check for grocery store deals. Look for healthy food items on sale – fresh or frozen vegetables, fruit, canned beans, canned fish and meats and poultry. Dried foods are also budget friendly like dried beans, pasta, rice and oatmeal & they keep for a long time. If you like quiona buy it on SALE. Take advantage of local / seasonal produce. The price may be lower depending on where you shop. Fruits and vegetables are frozen at their peak of freshness so they are just as nutritious as fresh. You can easily add frozen or canned veggies to main dishes like casseroles and stews. You can also use frozen fruits in oatmeal, yogurt, baking and smoothies. Great choices include any dark green or orange like edamame (which are soybeans that boost protein content), peas and carrots or dark coloured berries.
- Cook once eat twice.
Plan meals to make more than what you need today and enjoy the leftovers in another meal the next day. Cook extra whole grains like quinoa or barley for dinner and make a salad bowl recipe for lunch. If you eat meat and find lean cuts on sale consider buying a bit extra, roasting it and then incorporate it into another meal later. Look for recipes from Registered Dietitians that give you tips for using leftovers in your next meal.
- Store food properly
Which uneaten food do you throw out most often? Did you know that the most wasted foods in Canadian households are vegetables (30%), fruit (15%), and leftovers (13%) of total waste. So if you toss vegetables and fruit or leftovers in the trash then you’re like many Canadians. By eating the food you buy and storing it properly you will save money and reduce waste. If you find it challenging to be mindful of food storage here are some tips you could consider:
- Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are excellent sources of the antioxidant beta carotene. They’ll last for at least two weeks.
- Leafy greens tend to wilt within a week. So, shop and plan your menu accordingly.
- Apples spoil 10 times faster in the fruit bowl than in the fridge.
- Potatoes like a cool, dark spot so they don’t soften and sprout.
- Keep cooked food in the fridge for 3-4 days and if you can’t eat it, freeze it for later use.
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