by Denise Nowack, RD87517833

Eating well doesn’t have to take a bite into your budget.  A little work up front can save you time and money down the road.  Here are some tips to keep a few pennies in your pocket with out compromising your health.

 Have a plan.

  • Look for healthy recipe ideas using budget-conscious ingredients.  (Search the internet using the ingredient as the key word.)
  • Take stock!  Create a master shopping list to keep your refrigerator and pantry filled with staples that are quick and easy to cook, and kind to your wallet.
  • Clip coupons…or go online to look for discounts on the products you use most.

 Shop smart

  • Check your list and stick to it!  Resist the urge to pick up “extra” items from end-of-aisle displays or at the checkout counter.
  • Buy in bulk and store in ready-to-use portions.  If storage space is limited consider splitting packages with a friend to take advantage of volume savings.
  • Look for specials. Stock up on staples when they go on sale.
  • Take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables in season.  For other produce, frozen and canned products can be good choices.  Opt for low-salt products and avoid those prepared in sauces. 
  • Go generic.  Buying the store’s brand of canned, frozen or bagged foods can provide great savings without compromising nutritional value.

 Cook once, eat twice

  • When you have the energy to cook, double up on recipes! Freeze the extra in oven-ready containers, or use later in the week for lunches or quick dinners.
  • Stretch your meals. Leftovers from a roasted chicken at dinner can be reinvented the next night in a chicken pesto pasta or for lunch in a chicken salad.
  • Leftover vegetables can give canned soups, rice or pasta a nutritional boost.

Make the cut

While precleaned and precut produce can save time and energy in the kitchen they can be more expensive than their standard counterparts.  Go for whole fruits and vegetables and cut them up yourself. Chop and package them in common portion sizes for the recipes you use most, or slice and store them for an easy snack. 

Be a savvy snacker

Healthy snacking can be your best friend in managing fatigue.  However, single-serving snack foods can be costly.  Create your own individuals snack packs.  Make them in advance and package in individual snack bags so you can “grab & go.”

Be your own “takeout”

Restaurant and convenience foods can quickly chew into your budget.  Plan ahead and pack lunches in reusable and insulated containers for you and your family to take to work or school.  Here’s where your snack packs can come in handy.

Budget-friendly ingredients

  • Pastas
  • Quick-cooking grains (like quinoa, couscous, brown rice)
  • Canned beans (a great source of fiber and protein)
  • Soups (choose reduced-sodium varieties)
  • Canned & frozen fish
  • Canned & frozen varieties of fruits and vegetables
  • Nonfat powdered milk (use when milk is needed as an ingredient in cooking)

[tags]denise nowack, budget, eating, nutrition, grocery shopping, meals groceries, healthy eating[/tags]