For many of us, groceries are one of our largest expenditures each month as well as one of the easiest places to sabotage a healthy eating plan. There are so many temptations at the grocery store and it’s hard to pass up some of these items that seem like a convenience or a good deal. These tips can help you save money as well as fill your basket with healthy, real foods that will nourish your body and make you feel great!
· Make a list. I know that it’s time consuming to make a detailed shopping list and plan meals in advance. Even if you don’t have time to write out a full-fledged list, at least write out a basic menu for each day so you know what you’d like to eat during the week. This will keep you from making unnecessary purchases and convenience foods loaded with preservatives.
· Shop the produce section first. Loading up your cart with fresh fruits and vegetables will leave little room for the other junk in the store.
· Know your store. I shop at the same 1 or 2 stores so that I can get in and out quickly and know where the items I need are located. This allows me to skip certain aisles because I already know that I don’t need anything from these aisles. There’s nothing good on the soda and snack aisle so I am able to completely skip that section and avoid an impulse purchase that’s not good for my family. Quickly pick up dry items such as beans, quinoa and spices, avoiding the other packages of convenience foods. If you are tempted to purchase something in a box or can, be sure to read the label so you know if that really is a healthy option. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, put it back on the shelf and move on.
· Next shop the frozen area. Pass the ice cream, frozen pizzas, and packaged breakfast items. These are loaded with preservatives and chemicals that you don’t need. Look for bags of frozen vegetables. These are super convenient to have on hand when you don’t have fresh vegetables available or have limited time to cut them up. Many times, these frozen vegetables cost less than fresh vegetables. This is a great choice for convenience!
· Shop the perimeter cooler section. This includes the meat and dairy sections. Because your basket has already been filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, there is limited room for meats. Reducing meat consumption is a great way to save money as well as increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Remember that appropriate portion size is a small portion of meat with a larger portion of vegetables. Be sure to avoid packaged lunch meats and read labels on other packages (like cheese and yogurt).
Following these simple strategies will help you move quickly through the store, save money, and avoid the temptations on less-than-healthy foods.
What other tips to you have to save money while eating healthy? We’d love to hear them!
For more tips and recipes to keep you healthy and eating well, be sure to visit My Real Food Family!