Healthy eating is important for maintaining good physical health at all stages of life. However, healthy fresh foods can often cost more than less-healthy processed foods. The following tips can help stretch your healthy eating budget.
Shopping at farmers markets can be less expensive than the grocery store. Locally grown seasonal produce is often cheaper than produce shipped from out-of-state farms. Many farm stands will also offer discounts toward the end of the day, so plan to shop during the last hour of the market.
Some leftover fruits and vegetables can be frozen before they spoil, and preserved for later. If you find a good deal, stock up and freeze what you can’t use right away. Muffins and breads also freeze well. Consider buying bulk packages and freeze the extras.
You might also consider buying frozen fruits and vegetables instead of fresh. The freezing process preserves the nutritional content. By thawing and using only the amount you need, you can reduce the waste that occurs when fresh produce spoils before you have time to finish it.
Check the local newspaper circulars for coupons and sale ads. Plan your weekly menu around what’s on sale, rather than locking yourself in to a more expensive meal plan. Also, check your refrigerator and freezer before you shop. Plan meals around what you already have. Be sure to sign up for a discount card if the grocery store has one.
Beans and whole grains are a healthy and inexpensive way to stretch a recipe. To save money, use less meat and more beans and grains in a recipe. Beans provide a lot of protein and can even be a meal themselves. Experiment with grains you have never tried, such as quinoa, wheat berries and couscous. Cook large batches and freeze single-serving portions to save time.
Reducing your meat intake reduces your food costs, and can also be a healthier way to eat. There are many tasty and inexpensive vegetarian recipes in cookbooks and on the Internet. Exotic cuisines from Mexico, India, Thailand and the Middle East include many recipes with little or no meat.
Vegetable trimmings, such as carrot tops, onion skins, and sweet pepper cores, can be saved to make homemade vegetable stock. Store them in an airtight container or baggie in the freezer until you have enough.
To help make more healthy choices at the grocery store, shop around the perimeter. Fresh produce, meats, baked goods and dairy products are located around the outside edges of the store, while processed foods are located down the aisles.
Although healthy foods can cost more, they are better for you. You might think of the additional cost as an investment in your future. Foods that help keep you healthy may also decrease your healthcare and medication costs in the long run.
As always, consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.