Dear Holly: How can I save money at the grocery store and still eat well? -Healthy Budget
Dear Healthy Budget: Go to the grocery store with a list and a full stomach. The list is your game plan to focus your purchases on what you really need for the week and nothing more. Going hungry will only lead to splurges.
Only use coupons for foods that you would have bought anyway. I find that too often coupons are for junky things that aren’t helping to promote health at home.
Buy ingredients, not prepared foods. The closer something is to being ready to eat, the more likely it is going to cost more. A whole chicken costs less per pound than boneless chicken breasts and those cost less than chicken sausages or chicken nuggets.
Enjoy meatless meals more often. Beans and rice is a nutrition powerhouse and costs pennies per person. Stretch meals with meat by adding beans.
Compare prices. Sometimes the store brand is less expensive, sometime not. It is important to compare prices per unit. Check out the shelf tags to find price per ounce, pound or container. This makes it easier to know which purchase is the better deal.
Buy frozen fruits and veggies. They are just as nutritious as fresh, aren’t going to quickly wilt in your fridge (minimizing waste) and usually cost less per pound than fresh.
See if your produce section has a marked down section. I often find great deals on less-than-perfect produce that is still excellent to eat. I am happy to eat an apple with a dent in it if I save 75% on the price. (I’m looking at you, honeycrisp!)
Consider canned. Canned fruits and vegetables have a bad reputation because of their sodium content. While many canned veggies remain high in salt, more often a low-sodium or no added salt option is available. When buying canned fruit, look for those packed in juice instead of syrup. Canned beans, tuna, sardines and tomatoes are staples in my cabinet.
Check out the bulk section. Many times, there are savings to be had on grains, beans, nuts and spices. Buying in bulk also gives you the flexibility to buy exactly what you plan to use and nothing more.
Grow your own. If you have never gardened before, start with some herbs. Old milk containers make great pots and seeds are inexpensive. If you already have a garden – expand it!
Skip the drinks. With the exception of milk, there is no requirement for any other drink beyond water. Tap water is basically free and just as good (or better) than bottled water. If you like it cold, put a pitcher in the fridge.
Minimize waste. As a nation, we waste an abhorrent amount of food. From leaving less-than-perfect produce in the field, to spoiled food in the grocery store, or our own fridge, or wasting food at a restaurant, we are throwing away way too much food. Going to the grocery store with a plan helps to focus our purchases. Plan for all uses of a purchase. For example roast a whole chicken for dinner one night and plan to make chicken soup with the bones and chicken salad with the leftover meat.
Keep your fridge and cupboards organized and clean so that you can keep better track of the foods on hand before purchasing more. And when you do have food go bad, composting or feeding to your animals gives that food new life, even if it is not on your own plate.
And finally, eat less: as a nation with an obesity epidemic, many of us can benefit from smaller portions.
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What’s your question for Holly? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and to make an appointment to work on your goals, visit Grass Roots Nutrition, LLC and BrideBod, owned by me, Holly Larson, a Registered Dietitian. Visit me online at hollylarsonrd.com and follow us on Facebook. Have a delicious, healthy day!