The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates nutrition every March as a part of their annual National Nutrition Month campaign. In March, Liberty HealthShare invites you to focus on the importance of making informed food choices while developing good eating and physical activity habits.
A large influence on the way many people shop is the affordability of groceries and produce available to them. Your grocery budget can be a big slice of your monthly expenses, especially if you have a larger family. It is important to remember that nutrition is a key to healthy living and should be considered when purchasing food. With National Nutrition Month in mind, we want share with you tips to cut down your grocery bill, without cutting out the good stuff!
- Plan out your weekly meals
Getting the most nutritious food within your budget starts with some extra planning before you visit your local supermarket. Ditch dining out and start cooking at home, if you aren’t already, because making meals at home can be quick, easy and less expensive if you prepare beforehand! Deciding on meals and snacks before you shop will save you both time and money.
Take inventory of what you have in your freezer, fridge, and pantry, then do an online search to find recipes to include what you already have. Websites like Yummly can be used as a helpful cooking tool, where you can customize recipes to your personal tastes, nutritional needs, skill level, and more. Before heading to the grocery store, make a list of what you need, as this will help you feel more organized and in control while you save time shopping. If you find yourself often putting unnecessary items in your cart, try ordering your groceries online and picking them up – this way you only buy what you need. Many retailers, including Walmart and Target, offer free pick-up options, so check your local stores to see if this option is available in your area.
- Determine where to shop and shop in-season!
Check your local newspaper and store ads for sales and coupons, especially for more costly items like meat and seafood. When you are at the store, get in the habit of comparing the price of different brands and sizes to see which has a lower unit price. Another way to save is buying fresh fruits and vegetables that are in-season because they are easier to get and more budget-friendly. Buy small amounts at a time to avoid having to throw away spoiled produce, and consider low-sodium canned produce as it is also a good option that lasts.
- Decide how much to make or buy
Making a large batch by doubling a recipe will save time in the kitchen later on. The extra portions you make can be used for lunches or meals later in the week, and frozen leftovers can be stored in individual containers for future use. Plus, purchasing ingredients in bulk is almost always cheaper.
Also, you can reduce your monthly meal budget but cutting down on convenience snacks, as individually-packaged items are usually cost killers – even the healthy ones. Consider prepping your own snacks for the week by purchasing large tubs of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing them into smaller containers. You can make yummy, kid-friendly snacks like trail mix by combining unsalted nuts, dried fruit, and whole-grain pretzels or cereal and storing small portions in airtight containers. You can find more easy snack recipes for your kiddos here.
Mastering your grocery shopping plan doesn’t
have to be frustrating or feel like a ton of work. You can stick to
your budget with preparation and being mindful of what you are buying and where
you are shopping. Each shopping trip is a chance to build your budgeting skills
and better habits! Being a wise shopper and conscientious of your food budget
can you help stay healthy and free up some extra dollars to be used elsewhere.