These days most of everyone is on are some kind of budget for their food, whether you are a starving student, a single parent, or a family who lives on one income. Eating in a healthy fashion and staying within your budget can sometimes be difficult, however it is not impossible. There are a number of techniques you can employ that will allow you to offer nutritious food to your family without breaking the bank.
1. Don’t go shopping for food when you are hungry. I guarantee if you shop when you are hungry, you are going to spend more money buying food, and you are going to be more likely to purchase food that is not healthy. When you are hungry everything looks good, and the temptation to buy more than what you actually need will be overwhelming. This can be especially bad if you are purchasing extra food that can easily perish after a short amount of time, or falls into the junk food category.
2. Know what your budget is and stick to it. This means bypassing the cookie, ice cream, and candy aisles. In fact avoid them all together, and steer your cart to fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains aisles. If you don’t go anywhere near the junk food aisles then you will not be tempted, and will stay within your budget.
3. Shop alone. Kids are more easily conned by the pretty packaging, and the promise of a ready sugar high, than hopefully you are. Spouses can also be easily seduced into purchasing the not so healthy items, such as potato chips for example (not that you can’t be, but you’re building your will power). So, leave the family at home and do your shopping alone to avoid both the extra expense, and the time delay you will have to spend trying to talk them out of their junk food goodies.
4. Take an inventory of your pantry and make a food list before going food shopping. Then don’t purchase anything that can be categorized unhealthy, and that isn’t on the list. If you stick to your list and are firm that you are not buying junk food, you will save money.
5. Don’t purchase something that you know you won’t eat just because it is healthy. Pick foods that you and your family enjoy and that are still healthy and you will be more likely to eat it, as well as, not making extra trips to the store for food you know you and your family will eat to replace it.
6. Purchase store brands when the quality of store brand products is the same or better than the expensive brand name products. If you know the quality sucks, and or there are ingredients which are less healthy or you are unsure, then don’t buy it, you may save money, but you probably won’t eat it.
7. Only clip coupons for healthy foods. If you clip coupons for junk foods and have them on hand, you will be more likely to spend the money on them than on the good food.
8. Sign up for your local grocery store’s rewards program. Most large chains have a rewards program now that you can sign up for, and then you will get a card that the clerk can scan when you buy something at their store. With some stores such as QFC grocery chain, you see the savings immediately, others like Fred Meyers, you get coupons at the end of the quarter. Many stores offer discounts on fruits, vegetables, cereals and more when you are signed up for their rewards program. This is another way you can avoid breaking the bank when you go food shopping.
9. Avoid displays all together. Displays are meant to tempt you into buying extras which usually equals junk food. They are often arranged close to the check out counters, and at the ends of aisles so that you will see them as you are leaving to check out, or as you are going to another aisle to get something. The idea is you see it, it looks good, and you grab it, even if it isn’t on your shopping list!
10. Purchase those healthy products that you can in bulk. Products such as cereals, spices, and nuts can be purchased in bulk and can save you a lot of money. Also, when healthy non-perishable items are on sale, purchase these in bulk. If it is a non-healthy item, or junk food item do not buy it whether it is on sale or not.
11. Pay attention to your local grocery store flyers, so you know when your favorite healthy foods are on sale. Doing so can help you save money on food, as well as, keeping you and your family healthy.
12. Purchase only the amount of food that you know your family can eat. Just because a favorite vegetable or fruit is on sale, doesn’t mean you should go crazy and buy in bulk. These foods while healthy, are also perishable and you will lose money on the ones that spoil if you buy them in bulk just because they are on sale.
13. Does your grocery store have a section with marked down meats? If so, and the expiration date is for the date you are shopping or the next day, and the meats look healthy, consider buying some of your meat from this section. Be careful though, some stores put packages of very unhealthy looking meats in these sections, be selective, and check the dates, even if you have to peel back the new price tag to see them. Unfortunately some stores will purposefully cover up the dates with a new price tag so you can’t see that the meat is past the expiration date. If you aren’t going to use the meat right away, freeze it immediately. I often get very low fat meats in my grocery store’s marked down meats section, which helps me and my family to stay healthy, and I don’t spend as much as the person who is too picky to look there!
You and your family can still eat in a healthy fashion even if you are on a budget when you follow these tips. Many people think that if they are on a budget that they should buy any food that is on sale. In the end this helps no one, because unhealthy diets lead to health problems later on, and hence will end up costing you more money in medical bills trying to undo what an unhealthy lifestyle has garnered.