We’ve all done it—loaded our grocery carts with an abundance of colorful fruits, vegetables, and other health-conscious foods, only to stare in disbelief at the final price of the items. Eating healthy doesn’t need to put a dent in your wallet as long as you shop with a plan. Here are a few tips for affordable yet nutritious meals…
1. The frozen section is your best friend.
Frozen fruits and vegetables can be a real wallet-saver. Not only will produce last longer in the freezer than in the fridge, but it’s also extremely easy to heat up and serve. Frozen produce can be almost half the price of fresh, and can be bought in bulk due to a longer shelf-life. However, if you do opt for fresh produce, always pick what’s in-season (as you tend to get more for your dollar).
2. Protein comes in many shapes and sizes… and prices!
When choosing a protein source, opt for some of the cheaper items if you’re on a tight budget. Eggs are nutritionally dense, and can be prepared a variety of ways. Canned fish, such as tuna or salmon also provides a great deal of protein for an inexpensive price. Certain beans and other legumes (lentils, chickpeas) have high amounts of protein and fiber which will keep you fuller longer. When wandering down the dairy aisle, grab some Greek yogurt or cottage cheese–both great protein-packed snacks.
3. Always compare unit prices.
Often, consumers shop with their eyes. They grab the largest bags and boxes, assuming that these contain the most amounts of food. Looks can be deceiving, so be sure to check how many servings you’re really getting in each package. This is especially important when comparing brand-name items to generic items, which usually differ greatly in price but only slightly in taste.
4. Opt for whole foods, rather than processed.
Certain foods, especially whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta or breads, quinoa) tend to be less expensive, yet filling nonetheless. They can be purchased in bulk, and once prepared, used as leftovers throughout the week. Whole grain foods also have greater nutritional value than processed items.
5. Avoid impulse buying.
Have you ever gone to the grocery store with one or two items in mind, and ended up walking out with a cart full of unnecessary purchases? Next time you visit the supermarket, make a list and don’t stray from it. Planning your weekly meals will save not only time but money as well. Try to plan accordingly with weekly grocery ads for your supermarket, and make note of sale items. If possible, avoid shopping when hungry, as you will be more tempted to give in to “impulse buys”.
As you can see, there’s no need to go through an entire paycheck for a week’s worth of healthy groceries. If you prepare correctly, it’s easy to shop for nutritious items at an affordable price. Keep some of these tips in mind during your next grocery haul, and your wallet will thank you!