You know you need to eat well to live well. Experts tell you to get your five a day and cut down on the processed foods you eat. There are others that tell you to eat more organic foods, and others that will say to you all sugar is bad.
One of the most significant issues with better nutrition is the cost. While you know processed and packaged foods are not great for your overall health, they tend to be better financially. They are certainly cheaper to buy and usually last longer. Eating well just is not always cost-effective.
Well, that was the past. There are cost-effective ways to better nutrition. We have seven ways that you can save money and make your healthy food last much longer.
Start with a Good Plan and Grocery List
Better nutrition starts with your meal plan. There’s no point going into the grocery store without a plan of attack. After all, you would not go into a basketball game without a game plan, would you?
Planning your meals will help you cut down on the things you buy. You run through all the ingredients you need for any recipes that you plan to make. Look at the items you already have in the home to avoid doubling up on any ingredients unnecessarily.
The meal plan is also an excellent way to remain on a diet, follow your current weight loss plan, and ensure you get all the essential nutrients in your diet. You can run through all the macro and micronutrients you are going to need for a healthy diet.
Make a list of all you need. This is not a list of what you want, but a list of the foods you need to create all the meals on your meal plan.
Take this list with you to your grocery store. Follow it to the letter as much as possible. Of course, if the store is out of an item, you will need to replace it with something else. Find the next closest thing that is not processed. If you cannot find anything, consider whether it can just be left out of the recipe without changing the taste.
While shopping for your foods on the list, look around the shelves. Don’t just opt for the one at eye-level. This is where most of the expensive items are put; the ones that will give the stores a better profit margin. You want the cheapest options, usually higher up or lower down, making them harder to reach so they are less likely bought.
Never go to the grocery store while you are hungry. Even with a list, this will lead to you buying off it. You pick up quick meals to make because you feel like you need them. Your cravings kick in more, making you feel like you need the sugar rush. Your shopping trip ends up more expensive and less cost-useful for your nutritional benefits.
Cook from Scratch and Make Larger Portions
It is time to look at the way you cook. If you regularly eat out, you will want to curb it. Once every couple of week or once a month is not too bad, but if you eat out at least once a week, you are wasting money. On top of that, you are wasting the nutrients in your home.
Make it a habit of cooking inside the home. This is all part of that meal plan. You are planning for home cooked meals daily.
However, that does not mean you have to cook every day. Some people will make all their meals at the weekend. They are all meals that are easily frozen, so you can just pull them out and reheat when it comes to eating them. You can also make more substantial portions so that you can store the extra for another night. Consider leftover night once a week for a quick meal.
One of the best ways to make your grocery shop more cost-effective is to have a potluck night. Use up all the vegetables you have in the house; the ones that are about to go off. You can enjoy them and not feel like you have wasted your money on the nutrients. You will be surprised at what you can make. Just put the ingredients in cooking apps, and they will bring up delicious recipe ideas.
Don’t Buy the Branded Foods
Avoid the branded foods when you walk into a store. While they can sound more nutritious, they usually are not. Moreover, they are certainly not more cost-effective.
You are paying extra for the brand. The no-name options are just as good. You will barely taste a difference, especially when everything is thrown into a meal together.
At the same time, make sure you read the ingredients list. Just because something has a brand name does not make it better for you. There are chances that there are added salt, sugars, and other ingredients in the hope that it tastes better. The no-name options are more natural, helping them remain more nutritious and far more cost-effective.
Of course, this can work the other way around. Make sure the ingredients on the no-name options are better for you!
Most of the time, the non-branded food will be towards the bottom of the aisle sections. They are away from the eye level, so you do not instantly see them to buy them. Don’ be afraid to look at all the options within the area.
Just because something has been good for you so far, doesn’t mean it always will be. Every few months, double check ingredients to see if any formulas have changed.
Opt for Frozen Vegetables and Fruits More Often
You do not have to buy fresh to gain the nutritional benefits. Frozen vegetables and fruits are still packed with goodness. They are also far more cost-effective than the fresh produce in the store, especially when you are looking for something out of season.
Most bags of frozen fruit or veggies will last a few weeks. You can sometimes get a few months use out of the bag, depending on the amount you use throughout the week.
Frozen fruits are excellent for smoothies. There’s no need to stock up on the ice since the frozen fruits are already extra cold. They can also work well with porridge. Put them at the bottom with the hot porridge oats over the top and enjoy on a morning. The heat of the porridge will help to defrost the fruits.
As for frozen vegetables, you can cook them for your Sunday roasts, add them to stews, and even throw them into casseroles and stir-fries.
Since the bags last longer, you will buy fewer fruits and vegetables. You will also see less go to waste, helping to keep the long-term costs down.
Opt for In-Season Produce
Of course, not everything tastes excellent frozen. There is something about fresh produce, especially when it is in-season. In-season fruits and vegetables taste amazing. They are juicy, bright, and full of nutrients that will keep your bodies healthy throughout the day.
In-season produce is also cheaper to buy fresh. The stores find it easier to ship to them, and the manufacturers find it easier to grow. There’s no need to go through various customs, creating more time between picking and selling.
Work out which produce is in-season throughout the year. Tomatoes are good for the summer, squash is an excellent fall or winter vegetable, while potatoes can grow well throughout the year. Buy extra during these times of year and store the excess in the freezer. You make your frozen vegetable and fruit selection, making sure the money you spent is effective and worthwhile.
Want to keep the costs down further? Consider growing your produce. This is something you can do even if you are in an apartment. Your balcony may be the perfect place for growing your herbs! You will get a variety of nutrients through them without spending extra money in the store, just for them to end up going off before you have had a chance to use them up!
If you have a garden, you can grow your onions, tomatoes, carrots, and much more. You will be surprised at what works well; just work with the seasons at hand.
One of the best things about homegrown produce is the taste. You will pick it when it is ripe and get to eat it right away. This will give you more nutrients and more delicious fruits and vegetables throughout the year. You can always store the excess in the freezer.
Don’t Buy Just Because of Offers
Stores will routinely put on offers. That is great, except the offers are not for your benefit. The offers are always put on for the grocery stores’ benefits. So, you need to think ahead and use coupons and sales wisely.
If you were not going to buy ingredients that you have coupons for, consider whether you need them. They may be ingredients that you regularly use but just don’t need that week. If they are not going to go off right away or you have a way of preserving them stock up while they are on sale or you have coupons for them.
However, if they will go off or you are only buying them on the off-chance, leave them be. The sales will come up again in the future, and you get to save money that week by not getting them at all. You have made a more cost-effective decision.
Cut out on the junk that you buy too. Most of the sales and coupons will be on processed or junk food. Avoid the aisles, and the coupons and the foods will not be as tempting as they usually are.
When you do see sales and coupons for your cupboard staples, buy them in bulk. Things like baked beans, frozen fruits, and vegetables, fresh cuts of meat can all work out beneficial for you if you buy in bulk. You can either store them for weeks in the cupboard or stock them in the freezer and not need to buy them until the next time they are on sale.
Change Your Protein Purchases
We all know that meat is one of the best sources of protein. However, it is not the only source. There are many others, and some are even entirely proteins.
Meat is certainly one of the most expensive purchases you will make in the store. It is also sometimes one of the least cost-effective unless you act as soon as you buy. You could split up your bulk purchases and freeze right away, helping to make your bulk packs last longer. However, there are other options in case you want them in the fridge for immediate use.
Opt for cheaper cuts of meat instead. These tend to be fattier or have more skin, but you can act to remove them. Cut off the fats before cooking, remove the skin, and even try different cooking methods. Tougher cuts of meat taste juice and tender when done in the slow cooker. You can bulk make a dish for the rest of the week.
Alternative just replace the meat. Opt for legumes, tofu, eggs, and even canned fish. You will find they have less saturated fats. Some will even have minimal fats entirely. They have the protein and in many cases the fiber that your body needs.
Most of these meat alternatives will also last longer. You can store them in the cupboard for months without stocking up again, making them by far the most cost-effective purchase you could make.
It is Time to Be More Cost-effective but Healthy
Keeping the costs of your grocery shop down does not mean you have to eat processed foods. There are plenty of ways to make your healthy food last. You can save money in the long term. The seven tips above are some of the most popular, and will certainly help you stick to a long-term healthy diet.