Plan ahead. Spend a little time each week menu planning. This becomes especially helpful if your family is on the go. There are several apps and websites that can help. For example, Pepperplate will manage recipes, help with planning and create your shopping list. It just takes a little time and effort to get started.
Make a list and stick to it. Once you’ve finished your plan, come up with a list. The important thing is to stick to that list. When you get to the store, shop the perimeter. Generally speaking stores have the healthier options stocked there. Things like produce, dairy and meat products can be found there. One other tip, don’t shop on an empty stomach. You’ll be more tempted to fill your cart with things that aren’t necessarily good for you.
Bargain shop. Spend some time clipping coupons and looking for specials. Some stores will ad match, meaning you can save on items at the store you frequent instead of having to make several stops to get the best deals. Also, visit the farmers’ market in your area. Many have fresh produce, eggs and even plants to start your own garden. These products are usually very affordable. Plus you’re supporting the local economy by buying directly from the men and women in your community.
Buy whole products. Instead of buying shredded cheese, get the whole block and shred it at home. The same goes for pre-cut fruit and vegetables. Buying non-perishable items in bulk can also save money. You can separate into containers at home and freeze these foods.
Cook at home. You’ve stocked your pantry and refrigerator with all the things from the store. Now cook it at home. Many times we’re tempted to hit the drive-thru or go out to lunch or dinner in an effort to save time. You’re more likely to stick to a healthy eating plan if you’re the one preparing it.
Go nuts. Replacing meat with other sources of protein can save money. It can also cut down on the amount of fat you’re consuming. Nuts, legumes, canned fish and eggs are all healthy and inexpensive sources of protein. They’re also easy to prepare.
Pack your lunch. A lot of people go out for lunch to get away from work for a bit. Assuming the meal costs $10 each time and you go even just twice a week you’re spending more than $1,000 a year on lunch. Packing your own can not only save money, but again you have the control over what ingredients are going into the meal. Swap out the can of soda for a bottled water and save more calories and money too.
Buy generic. There’s nothing wrong with choosing store brands over name brands when it comes to filling your cart. Most of the time the products taste very similar and costs much less. Some discount grocery stores are even introducing their own line of organic products which has an added cost, but still many times more affordable than the big box stores.
Appoint substitutions. Slowly transition your family from eating unhealthy items by swapping them with better choices. Instead of jelly on a PB&J sandwich use bananas, sliced berries or grapes. Make your own potato chips or french fries with spuds, olive oil and a little seasoning. Instead of chocolate cake for dessert, serve angel food cake with fresh berries and a small serving of whipped cream.
Bananas vs. Twinkies. Consider this, a box of Twinkies has ten treats inside. The cost is about $3. You also buy ten bananas for less than $2. You’re saving money and getting a healthy snack to replace one loaded with added sugar and other preservatives.
As you start making some of these changes they’ll become habit forming. Let your children get involved in the process too. Don’t try to eliminate all the “junk food” at once, that’s where battles will form. It’s okay to still have sweet treats and salty snacks, just do it in moderation.
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