Budget-Friendly Healthy Eating
With a family of five plus one on the way, I pride myself on our monthly food budget. It’s taken a few years of practice to get it down, but I think I have found some great ways to decrease the cost of food for your family while still eating healthfully.
Eat at home
This is by far my number one recommendation. Eating out is so costly, especially when you have a large number of people. Eating at home makes it easier to control portion sizes, vegetable choices and carbohydrate intake. Consider choosing a day each week to be a meal planning day. Sit down with your family, talk about the week’s schedule and choose some dinner options that everyone enjoys.
Although this can be a little time consuming, especially when it comes to produce and meat, price shopping different stores can work to your budget’s advantage. Watch for sale days, check which stores have your favorites, and buy large amounts and freeze them when they go on super sale. Chicken is good in the freezer for up to nine months, and ground meat is good in the freezer for up to four months. Be sure to buy only as much produce as your family will go through as it spoils quickly. It’s better to run back to the store later in the week to buy more than to waste money on uneaten fruits and vegetables.
Opt for vegetarian meals
Meat is one of the most expensive things on our grocery lists. Challenge yourself to eating a vegetarian dinner once or twice a week and you will surely notice a difference in your grocery store expenses. Some ways to substitute are: add black beans to tacos or taco salads in place of ground beef or chicken, try chickpeas as an addition to your favorite stir-fry recipe, or one of my personal favorites, opt for an easy grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwich. Try a wrap or sandwich thin to decrease carbohydrate intake.
Make your own salads
The prepackaged salads are so easy and convenient it is hard to resist. But buying your own romaine or even spinach and cutting and blending them yourself will not only give you a delicious salad, it will also yield way more food. In the same way, it is better to purchase whole fruits such as watermelon and pineapple and slice them yourself than to buy them precut. When you buy precut, you pay extra as well as risk food contamination from the person who did the cutting.
Try a spreadsheet
Challenge yourself to keeping track of the amount of money you spend on food. You may be surprised how quickly $5 here and $20 there adds up. Once you have established your usual spending amount, make a goal for the month to spend $50 less. And then try these few tactics to make that happen. There may be some options that work better for you than others. But eating healthy and spending less is a win-win!