It is possible to feed your family more healthy foods and watch your pennies. Just follow a few basic tips and you can eat well without blowing your grocery budget.
Planning on healthy eating
Spending a little time planning your menus could save you lots of dough. Here’s how to get the most out of your food-buying dollar:
- Plan the week’s dinners and lunches in advance, and build your shopping list around the recipes so you buy just what you need and will use.
- Check your newspaper and store fliers for coupons and special deals. Then choose recipes that include foods that are on special that week and locally produced vegetables that are in season.
- Include meals that make whole grains and vegetables the focus and use smaller portions of meat — soups, stews and casseroles are good choices.
- Each week, try to include one or two vegetarian meals that use non-meat protein sources such as beans and legumes, lentils, eggs or tofu.
Select your store
Try to shop no more than once a week. That way, you’re less likely to buy food you don’t need. Where you shop can also make a difference to your food costs:
- Visit discount grocery stores instead of premium chains or expensive delis.
- Consider joining a food club, but only if the savings will cover the cost of the membership and you won’t be tempted to overspend.
- Visit farmers markets or local produce stands in the summer and fall, or go to a “pick your own” farm.
- Join a community garden or grow some vegetables in your yard if you have one.
Choose the right foods
Selecting foods carefully helps you get more nutrition out of every meal and snack. Here are some examples of better choices that are also cost-effective:
- Opt for the less expensive option of a food, by choosing, for example, cans of frozen unsweetened juice instead of cartons of fresh; dried legumes instead of canned; plain oatmeal instead of flavoured instant packets; whole broccoli instead of crowns; canned light tuna and pink salmon instead of other varieties.
- Choose foods that are less processed and less packaged: fresh fruits and vegetables; whole grain pasta, rice and bread; frozen vegetables without sauces; fish without batter or sauces; blocks of cheese rather than shredded cheese or cheese strings; large tubs of yogurt instead of individual servings.
- Snack on fruits and veggies such as apples, grapes, celery sticks or baby carrots, or air popped popcorn instead of chips, candy or cookies.
The foods you select at the grocery store have a big impact on how well you will eat that week. Follow these tips for choosing more healthy foods:
- Check the per-unit cost, which is often found in fine print on the shelf labels, to get a better price comparison between different brands.
- Read labels and reduce sugar by avoiding foods that are high in “fructose,” “glucose,” or other words ending in “-ose”.
- Stock up on canned foods, long-lasting foods like dried pasta and rice, or frozen foods when on sale.
What you do when you get your food home also has an impact on how well you can eat.
- Package up individual servings for lunches or snacks in reusable containers or snack bags.
- Use a slow cooker to create a delicious dish with cheaper cuts of meat like stewing beef or shoulder or flank cuts.
- Make extra and freeze the leftovers instead of buying prepared frozen foods, ordering in or eating at fast-food restaurants.
Looking for recipes? Check out our recipes for delicious and nutritious meals and snacks.