eating healthy on a budget: you can do it!

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Eating healthy on a budget can be tough.  Fresh, whole food often costs more than its processed counterpart.  That said, we all know the role great food plays in keeping our families’ healthy, and with good planning we really can eat great-quality food and keep the grocery bill reasonable.

Here are a few of my favourite tips for keeping healthy eating affordable, one step at a time:

a.  Before you shop:

  • Plan, plan, plan:  I cannot underscore enough the importance of this one.  It will take a half hour but save you at least three in extra grocery trips and prep time.  Do a meal plan for the week the day before you grocery shop.  Go through the recipes/meals you plan on making and include any new ingredients on your grocery list.  Include snacks for the week and school lunch ingredients in your plan and food list.  It’s also a great idea to have the ingredients for one healthy “fast food” meal on hand (like scrambled eggs or whole grain pasta and sauce) for the inevitable unplanned dinner “rush job”.  All of this detail the key to affordable whole food.
  • Don’t waste: Before you do your meal plan, check your freezer and pantry:  Do you have any meals or meats that need to be used?  Incorporate them into this week’s plan to save money & reduce waste!

b.  At the store:

  • Look “high and low”, literally, when you are at the grocery store:  The most expensive items are almost always placed at eye level, with bargains on the lower and upper shelves.
  • Stick to your list: This is crucial.  Did you know that 7 out of every 10 purchases are spontaneous?  Avoid that trap by knowing exactly what you need.

c. Back at home:

  • Bake with your kids:  Not only do you control the ingredients and freshness of the foods, it’s often much cheaper than buying pre-made treats, and it provides quality time to “talk food”!
  • Cook a large-batch meal every weekend and freeze half, or use leftovers for lunches through the week.
  • Plan and cook with seasonal produce in mind:  It’s often cheaper and fresher than imported produce, and it’s a great way to support local farmers.
  • Eat vegetarian a couple of meals a week, and use the money you save to splurge on better quality, grass-fed meat.  Shop for meat at your local market or butcher!
  • Freeze, freeze, freeze:  Not only can this let you take advantage of bulk deals and sales on healthy items, it can make your life much easier! Did you know you can freeze brown rice, cooked beans, hummus, pesto, and leftover fresh herbs (puree with a little olive oil before freezing)?

Good luck, fellow penny pinchers!  Try it for a couple of weeks and you will be amazed at how much money you can save with a little planning!

This blog also appears on the HRM Parent website today!  Visit that site for great posts on healthy living and parenting tips/ideas!  Here’s the link: http://hrmparent.ca/myblog/Bringing-Balance-Eating-Healthy-on-a-Budget/

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