"It costs too much money to eat healthy!" This is commonly what I hear when teaching courses on nutrition and healthy eating.
Yes, it is not hard to spend big bucks when going to the grocery store, but it doesn't have to be that way with a bit of planning. According to the most recent data from the USDA, the cost of feeding a family of four a healthy diet can range from $146 to $289/week. These numbers are based on preparing all meals and snacks at home for 2 adults and 2 school-aged kids
Some of the more expensive items at the store will include:
Pre-made meals and sides
Limiting some of the more expensive items in addition to following these other tips will help you to save money, while still eating well.
1. Buy store brands instead of national brands.
2. *Buy produce in season.
3. If you choose organics, look for those that will have the greatest impact. EWG has a complete list of the produce highest in pesticides. Though organics have good benefits, eating fruits and vegetables whether organic or not is always a great choice.
4. Plan meals for 4 or 5 nights/week and then leave the other nights to clean up leftovers.
5. Use meat as a side instead of the main component of the meal.
6. Buy in bulk when possible. Look for family packages of meats, go to the bulk section of the store for grains and beans.
7. Cut back on costly beverages.
8. Compare prices - look at the cost per unit on the shelf label. You can quickly compare the price of different brands and different package sizes to see which is the better deal. Also, consider stocking up at a specific store that may have lower prices on certain items.
9. At least once per week look through your refrigerator and use up foods that will spoil soon.
10. Make your own food! Eating well and saving money starts with cooking at home.
Yes, it does take planning and food preparation to eat well on a budget. Whether we have a small or large food budget, planning and preparation is the best way to eat well. But you can make that easier for yourself. Create a plan for your week - meals and snacks. Then keep that plan so when you don't know what to do next you have a list of simple solutions that will work for you and your family.
I encourage you to commit to planning and preparing most if not all meals at home for 1 week, or even better 1 month.
*Following is a list of seasonal produce in Minnesota. For information on seasonal produce in your area go to your state health department website for more information.
January March Apples, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Celeriac, Daikon, Garlic, Horseradish, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Plums, Potatoes, Raspberries, Rutabagas, Shallots, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Winter Squash
April June Arugula, Asparagus, Beet Greens, Bok Choy, Cauliflower, Chard, Chives, Cilantro, Collard Greens, Cress, Dandelion Greens, Dill, Garlic Greens, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard, Oregano, Parsley, Parsnips, Peas, Radishes, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Sage, Scallions, Sorrel, Spinach, Sprouts, Strawberries, Turnips
July September Basil, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chokecherries, Cilantro, Cucumbers, Currants, Dill, Eggplant, Endive, Fennel, Garlic, Gooseberries, Green Beans, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Marjoram, Melons, Mint, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Oregano, Parsley, Peppers, Plums, Potatoes, Radicchio, Raspberries, Sage, Savory, Scallions, Squash, Strawberries, Sweet Corn, Tarragon, Tomatoes, Zucchini
October December Apples, Arugula, Beet Greens, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Chard, Collard Greens, Cress, Daikon, Dandelion Greens, Fennel, Garlic, Horseradish, Kale, Kohlrabi, Late Melons, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard, Okra, Onions, Peppers, Plums, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Purslane, Raspberries, Rutabagas, Scallions, Shallots, Sorrel, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Winter Squash