One area of life where it can be easy to cut costs is your food budget. No, you don’t have to eat a diet consisting of ramen noodles and dollar hotdogs to do it either. There are ways to eat healthy for less. Here are a few tips for eating healthy, frugal diet.
Don’t skip out on savings – use coupons and membership clubs
Are you a member of the savings clubs of each grocery store in your area? You should be! These memberships give you advanced notice of sales and often give you the best price on items. This coupled with manufacturers’ coupons can shave quite a bit off your grocery bill.
Plan your grocery trips and stock up
After browsing the current sales and your selection of coupons, make a shopping list and stick to it. Don’t get enticed into an impulse purchase by the fresh bakery display, or the hot entrees to-go display. Stick to your list!
For the sale items on your list, if the sale is good, stock up! Especially on items with a long shelf life or can be frozen, like rice, beans, pasta, meat, and frozen veggies, buy more and stock up. Also be sure to check the price per ounce or pound to ensure you’re getting the best deal for the size on your list.
If the frozen broccoli is on sale, 2 packs for $3, get four packs. If the giant boxes of pasta are on sale, 3 for $5, get six. Buy more of your staple items when the prices are lowest. This habit will keep your pantry full of healthy meal ingredients and you can avoid paying higher prices during hard times.
During the recent “Chicken Apocalypse” when prices for chicken went up 25% or more, I didn’t need to buy a single package. My freezer was full of chicken I bought earlier at sale prices, so I could still make my favorite healthy meals at the lower price.
Prepare to be flexible on brand and ingredient. Pick the most cost effective option and make it work in your recipe. That flexibility doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality, however. For example:
- If the 85% ground beef is on sale instead of the leanest type, use the 85% and strain the excess fat.
- If the frozen veggies are on super sale, get those instead of fresh.
- If the store brand sugar is on sale, get that instead of Domino’s sugar.
Instead of making small meals that only last a day or so. Make a larger amount, big pots of soup or chili, large pans of roasted chicken, and then portion them into smaller servings.
Invest in a few sets of freezer safe containers and zipper bags and freeze ready made meal-sized portions. Most things last 2 to 6 months in the freezer when properly sealed. This will lead to less waste from spoilage and give you a variety of quick and easy meals every day. A freezer fully stocked with a selection of healthy, ready to heat and eat meals will get you out of the habit of spending extra cash on fast food, Grubhub orders, and stops to the grocery store hot bar.
Also, be sure to regularly take inventory of your fridge, freezer and pantry. Rotate older items to the front so they’re used before they spoil. Take notes on things that you’re low on and keep an eye out for sales on those items.
Schedule your shopping
Set a day to do all your grocery shopping and stick to it. Most stores drop their new sales on Friday or Sunday. Plan to shop one of those days to ensure you’re able to buy the sale items before they’re out of stock. Avoid stopping by the store “for just one thing”. That’s a recipe for impulse shopping and buying yourself a “treat”. Something that your diet and your wallet probably don’t need. Chances are you don’t need that “just one thing” and have something at home that will work just as well.
Skip the unplanned shopping trips and save money.