There are many concerns for changing food habits, and one is the cost. Many believe that eating healthy is expensive, so I thought I would share some tips for how to make it more cost-effective.
- Plan! Going to the grocery store with a plan will ensure you are buying what you need to build cohesive, balanced and nutritious meals. You are bound to save money when you are clear on what you actually need.
- Buy fruits and vegetables in their whole form (not already chopped and pre-packaged). Also, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables may be more cost-effective.
- Use lower cost protein sources like eggs, beans, lentils and peanut butter. Make an effort to plan a meatless meal or two each week. Maybe breakfast for dinner (pancakes, fruit and eggs) will be an easy way to do this.
- Save money on cereal (so expensive!) and buy a canister of dry oats. If you or your kids dislike cooked oatmeal and you have access to a blender, try this oatmeal pancake: 2 cups oats, 2 cups cottage cheese, 6 eggs, and a dash of vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon (optional). Combine in a blender and blend until smooth. Cook on a griddle or stove top. Pair with some fruit!
- Keep your eye out for Case Lot Sales or any opportunity to buy in bulk. It often saves you money, especially if you are cooking for a large family. Coupons will always help too! Also, store brand items will be cheaper.
- Be sure to freeze any fresh foods you will not use before they expire.
- Pack your lunch instead of eating out. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread with an apple and string cheese will be much less expensive and more nutritious.
- We would all do well to grow some of our own food! Many fruits, vegetables and herbs can be grown in pots or planter boxes inside or on the porch.
- You may find this “Good and Cheap Cookbook” really helpful! It’s actually designed for those on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assitance Program), who are trying to stretch a $30 per week per person food budget. However, these flavorful and nutritious recipes would be an inspiration for anyone!
- Last but not least, here are some shelf-stable, nuritious foods to keep in the pantry. These are items that won’t spoil and help eliminate food waste while providing a healthy base for meals:
Canned or dried beans
Instant oatmeal packets
Brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains
Whole grain pastas
Canned or pouched tuna, salmon and chicken
Peanut butter, almond butter, sunbutter, tahini, etc.
Nuts and seeds
Whole grain pancake mixes
Tomato sauce/marinara sauce
I hope this has been helpful in helping you feel less overwhelmed in making food changes!
Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD