Living healthy on a budget
by Jacque Miller —
With today’s economy, it is a great time to challenge yourself to see how healthily you can feed your family on a budget. Many of us are cutting corners wherever we can and we may be finding it hard to provide affordable, healthy options for our families when grocery shopping.
You have probably heard many of the following hints from your mother or grandmothers and what’s great is that their advice still holds up today.
- Go meatless for one or two main meals a week. If you do cook with meat or poultry, use it mainly to enhance your dishes and your dollar will go farther.
- Sign up for www.bountifulbaskets.org, a co-op where you can purchase fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables online and pick them up at a location near you. Two laundry baskets worth of food cost around $15. Be sure to take your own container to bring the food home in. There is also an organic option, plus other items available for order.
- Make one-dish meals (Grandma called them casseroles) and serve with a large green or fruit salad.
- Make it from scratch. Many prepackaged, canned and frozen foods are high in fat, calories, sodium, sugar and cost. They likely are also lower in vitamins and minerals than foods prepared at home. You pay for the fancy packaging and convenience, but you get much less for your money.
- Buy in bulk when you can, and do bulk cooking a couple of times a month to save time and cost. By preparing and cooking most of the meal ahead, you will have more time to spend with your family.
- The unit price calculates the cost of a product per unit. For example, a unit could be by the ounce, pound or number of items in a package. Unit prices are usually marked on the shelf below the product. For example, if you are looking for canned beets and see three brands to choose from, read the unit price below each one to see which is the least expensive option.
- Have a game plan. Know what you will be buying and where you are going before heading to the store.
- • Because much of your grocery money is spent on protein, it is smart to have a freezer. That way you can stock up during the sales of lean ground beef, turkey, chuck roast and other healthy meats that will stay fresh in the freezer for six to nine months.
Tips on developing a shopping plan
- Plan meals and snacks several days in advance. Write out a shopping list and stick to it.
- Compare prices among grocery stores. Shop at national chains and discount food outlets. Do not shop at convenience stores.
- Frequent the stores that sell wholesome or organic foods, store brands and foods in bulk.
- Use coupons with caution. They are often for foods that are more expensive. Do not buy junk food or items that you normally wouldn’t buy just because you have a coupon.
- Never shop on an empty stomach.
- Look for sales on items that are on your list.
- Make sure the food you buy is fresh. Food on sale is sometimes starting to get old. Always check the dates on food, especially milk and meat, because you want it to be safe.
Jacque Miller, B.S., is a nutritionist, human behavior specialist and certified lifestyle educator who has developed HealthStyle® Choices Wellness Programs to teach families real solutions for healthy living. Jacque shares her experience with cancer in her book, The Lopsided Gal. www.cdoaz.com, www.healthstylechoices.com or 602-748-4554.
From the Archives of AzNetNews.