How do you eat a nutritious diet while keeping your grocery costs low? We’re here to tell you that eating healthy on a super-tight budget is possible — it just takes planning and a little creativity.
Watch your wallet — and your waistline — by following these budget-friendly, healthy-eating tips.
Buy Fruit And Veg In Season
In-season fruits and vegetables offer great taste and value. In the spring and summer, look for vegetables like asparagus, beets, fava beans, corn, chard, green beans, broccoli and herbs, and fruits such as berries, herries, peaches and watermelon. In the fall and winter, stock up on kale, zucchini, leeks, garlic, turnips, carrots, and cabbage. And remember, no matter what season is it, bananas, celery, and potatoes are always tasty and always a good buy.
Opt For Real, Non-Packaged Foods
By skipping the packaged products and buying just the basics, you’ll save a surprising amount of money compared to if you bought canned, boxed and bottled foods. Slice and dice your own vegetables and fruits, and go the homemade route wherever possible. It’s cheaper (and healthier!) to make your own homemade granola bars, breakfast oatmeal, nut butter, hummus, guacamole, salsa, salad dressing, soups and more.
Create A Weekly Meal Plan
When it comes to saving money at the supermarket, planning is key. Try to plan your meals in advance for the upcoming week. Then, make a grocery list of what you need, based on what you have and the leftovers you can anticipate. Also consider planning your meals around grocery store sales, especially cuts of meats or fish. It may not seem very glamorous, but you could slash your grocery bill in half if you can base your family’s meals based on what’s on sale that week.
Choose Cheaper Cuts Of Meat
If you’re a meat eater, learn to cook with cheaper cuts. Bone-in, skin-on, tougher cuts of red meat, like brisket and organ meats are much cheaper (and often more nutritious and flavourful) than say, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Better yet, buy the whole chicken and use all its parts for different meals and homemade consomme.
Also try different cooking methods, like stewing, slow braising or using your slow cooker (ideal for pork shoulder, chuck roast, etc.). Long, patient cooking can make even tough cuts taste nice and juicy.
Follow Your Grocery List
Behind every successful meal plan is a well thought-out grocery list. Grocery lists are not just there so you can remember what to buy. They also help you avoid buying unnecessary items that you don’t need, which is always a big plus when you need to stick to a budget. Make sure you check your fridge and cupboards before you head off to the grocery store so you’re not wasting money on foods that won’t get eaten or spoil.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Canned And Frozen
Frozen foods can cost a fraction of what fresh foods cost while retaining a great deal of the original nutrition value. Additionally, canned foods like chickpeas or black beans come packed with fibre that will help keep you feeling full. Just be sure to watch for any added ingredients, like sauces, sodium or sugar.
Visit The Farmer’s Market
The farmer’s market may not always be your cheapest choice, but locally-grown produce (especially in season) can be a surprising source of savings for the savviest shopper. You may want to buy in bulk for big savings — then you can always freeze your fruits and vegetables. Another tip for visiting the farmers market is going on the very last day. The last day usually allows you to bargain for better prices. Become a regular with your favourite farmers; once they recognize you, they may get in the habit of slipping a little extra in your bag.
Grow Your Own Herbs
Growing your own herbs and vegetables can really help you cut down on your food expenses. Herbs such as basil, oregano, chives, parsley, rosemary, lavender and peppermint can all be grown at home, and are excellent for having at the ready when a dish needs flavouring.
Filter (And Flavour!) Your Water
Buying a cheap filter for your tap can actually save you lots of cash and can even encourage you to drink more water. You won’t have to resort to fizzy drinks of bottled water anymore. Try putting lemon slices in your water for extra flavour.