Did they start growing cauliflower in gold? If you’ve had to do any grocery shopping in the last couple of months you can’t help but notice the skyrocketing food prices.
I find as food becomes more expensive it can easily become an excuse a rational for not having a healthier diet. The good news is, even with soaring food costs your family can still afford to eat healthy without braking the bank with these 21 easy ways to eat healthy on a budget.
Make a meal plan
This is part one. I make a meal plan every week. I’m not going to lie, I don’t love doing it. Often I find it annoyingly time consuming but the alternative and stress of trying to think about and plan what’s for dinner every night is way worse. This simple healthy habit, greatly decreases your chances of grabbing meals to go on your way home from work.
Make a list
This is part two. Also annoyingly time consuming but the alternative (see details above) is way worse. Going to the store without a list is like going on a road trip without a map. You just should not do it. Without a plan you will end up spending money on food you don’t necessarily need.
Reduce food waste
It’s estimated we waste approximately 40 per cent of our food. When you are throwing out rotten food, you are throwing your money away with it. When meal planning and making a list does not happen your food waste is going to increase. Impulse buying food without a plan will lead to crisper decay in days. If it’s just too overwhelming and your family’s schedule is too unpredictable to make a plan and list for the week shop more frequently. Plan for only a few days in advance.
Shop the perimeter
Since all food costs are increasing you want to spend your money where it matters most. Fill your cart with whole food first and then shop the inside aisles where you will find mostly packaged and processed foods.
Break bad habits
So much of our weekly shopping is done out of habit. We shop the same way and put the same things into our cart week after week. The reality is, ALL food costs are increasing, the bunch of bananas AND the box of Oreos. Which do you really need? A limited budget means making choices. Which foods are you putting in your cart that could be left on the shelf to make room for healthier options?
Shop at your local health food store
Getting away from the big box and supporting your local stores and economy is always a good idea. If you do find yourself shopping the inside aisles every week, switch it up and try shopping at your local CHFA health food store. We are creatures of habit and often shop the same way and buy the same foods each week. Switching it up by trying a new store and new healthier products is a good way to get out of expensive shopping habits.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk is typically cheaper because you are already saving on the price of packaging. It also allows you to buy exactly what you need for a recipe which is great for items like grains and spices. Bulk stores offer all kinds of different healthy foods that you probably have not tried before. Experiment by making your own trail mix or finding a new recipe with ingredients you can buy in bulk.
Shop the dirty dozen clean 15
Eating organic is expensive but it’s important. In order for my family to eat organic with soaring food costs, I keep a copy of the EWG’s clean fifteen and the dirty dozen in my wallet. When I’m at the store I know where I want to spend (apples, berries, spinach) and where I can save (avocados, asparagus, cauliflower.)
Did you know that it’s the international year of pulses? This makes total sense because pulses are high in fibre and low on the glycemic index. This means they will help balance your blood sugar, allowing you to feel fuller longer and won’t leave you searching the office for that 3:00 pm sweet treat.
Buy “cheap” health food
I don’t know who decided to start the rumour that it’s more expensive to eat healthy, I just don’t buy it. Pound for pound, I bet beans, brown rice, quinoa and lentils are less expensive than KD. Every week, every grocery store has sales on different vegetables and fruit. There are countless apps that you can download to track sales and specials. Eat what’s on sale and in season.
Make your own
When you buy premade meals and sauces you are paying a premium because someone has done the work for you. As busy moms, when there are never enough hours in the day, it may seem like a fair trade off. The reality is, premade and packaged foods often come with hidden sugar, salt and additives, ingredients that you won’t find in your own healthier, homemade meals.
Try new recipes
Swap out some of your old standby recipes for new ones that use simpler, smaller and cheaper ingredients. This time of year homemade soups, stews and chillies, all of which can be made vegetarian, are nutritious, delicious and hearty.
Love your leftovers
After coming home from a long day at work the last thing you want to do is cook dinner. Making a meal that can be used for two nights is a big bonus. Cook more than you need so you can have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.
Clean your fridge
So often food goes into the fridge never to be seen again. Having a well stocked and organized fridge will decrease the chances of food becoming forgotten. Make an effort to clean your fridge out at least once a week. Keep food that needs to be eaten at the front.
Use your freezer
Your freezer is your friend. Those banana have been sitting on your counter a bit too long? Peel them, put them in the freezer and use them in your smoothie. Cut-up that sad sweet potato hiding in the back of your crisper and throw it into the freezer. You can add it to the next soup you are making. Save your food from the awful fate of the green bin by throwing it into the freezer instead of into the garbage. But remember, always date your food and keep it rotating. Freezing only works if you actually remember to use what you freeze.
Get together with a few of your mom friends or colleagues at the office and start a soup swap. Each month you all make a big batch or two of your favourite soup and put it into mason jars. Then have a girls night where you get together to swap your soups. Instead of having to eat the same soup for days you have a bunch of choices and the best part is you can put it into your freezer for the nights you don’t have time to cook
I know this is a tough one but it’s an expensive habit and often those pricey lattes are loaded with hidden sugars that you don’t need.
Buy a Swell
Save up your Starbucks money and buy a Swell, I got one as a gift at Christmas and I honestly don’t know what I did without it. Save money on bottled water, tea or coffee, take it with you to go.
Become a vegetarian or vegan for the week
Meat is expensive. There are many, many different ways to get your protein. Sticking to a plant based diet will help your pocket book and the planet.
Cut out the junk
Junk food is not cheap, but more importantly you really don’t need it. When it comes to pinching pennies at the grocery store look for the foods that are high in sugar and/or salt. These foods typically have a lower nutritional value and are better left on the shelf.
Pack a lunch
This is such an important health habit that not enough of us do. If you make this one little change, and take your lunch to work every day, your wallet and your waistline will be very happy.
What are you doing to save money with the soaring cost of food prices? I would love to hear your tips below.
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