Eating healthy, that is including lots of fruit, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains into your eating plan, doesn’t have to cost a lot. If you shop smart and plan ahead, you’ll be surprised at how much good-for-you food you can buy without breaking the bank.
- Prepare menus and grocery lists ahead. This can keep you from making impulse food choices, which often aren’t healthy. With planning, you can make the healthy choice the easy choice. Take a few minutes over the weekend to go through your favorite healthy recipes and map out your meal plan for the upcoming week.
- Use technology. There’s an app for that. Look for a grocery list or meal-planning app with a grocery list feature. This will help you quickly grab the ingredients you need for your healthy meal plan.
- Cook on the weekends. If your weekdays are busy, prep ahead or cook over the weekend and store the meals in the fridge or freezer. Simply thaw as needed and reheat for hassle-free lunches and dinners.
- Prep snacks. Cut up fruits and vegetables and keep them handy in individual portions in the fridge. This will help you and your family have healthy ready-to-go snacks.
Shop smart to save big
- Look for specials and sales. This is the time to stock up on frozen and canned produce (without added sugar or extra sodium).
- Use coupons and join store rewards programs. This makes it easy to track what’s on sale.
- Buy fresh produce in season. For example, blueberries cost less in spring and summer, when they’re in season. You’ll pay more in the fall and winter when they’re shipped from warmer climates.
- Skip the prepared individually packaged food. The convenience may be tempting, but it’s usually healthier and cheaper to prepare the same foods at home. For example, buy whole fruits, such as watermelon and pineapple, instead of the cut chunks in the container. It will be much less expensive and only takes a few minutes to do yourself.
- Buy local. The produce at a farmers market or local farmstand is usually fresher when it’s local because it didn’t have to travel a long distance to a food distribution warehouse followed by delivery to your supermarket. Local food is typically picked at peak freshness, which offers the best flavor and nutritional value.
- Buy in bulk. Often the more you buy, the less expensive it is per unit. Consider buying food in bulk and splitting the cost with friends or family.
Create a new routine
- Start small. Start with a small change and keep building from there. Many small changes will add up to big results. Before you know it, you will have a new healthy routine in place.
- Make one healthy change at a time. You and your family won’t feel blindsided or deprived if the changes you make aren’t all at once.
- Involve the whole family. Kids can help with meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. Let each family member be chef for a day and take charge of a particular meal. Encourage older kids to make a game of reading Nutrition Facts labels and ingredient lists at the grocery store. Let younger kids pick out new types of fruits and vegetables to try.
- Learn to cook healthy and on a budget. Check out this list of healthy foods under $1 and budget-friendly recipes.