Eating healthy on a budget
Published: Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 22:03
With spring break right around the corner, many students are looking for ways to boost their nutrition and fitness levels. While making a quick stop into Saladworks or Panera Bread between class every once in a while can be harmless, the cost of eating out regularly adds up quite quickly. But just because you’re on a limited spending budget, doesn’t mean eating healthy isn’t an option. In fact, by implementing the right shopping tips and tricks, eating healthy, nutritious foods can actually cost less. Here are a few tips you can follow to save money without compromising nutrition:
Plan ahead: Before you go to the grocery store, make sure to write out a list of the foods that you know you need—including any ingredients for recipes you plan on making. This may involve thinking a week ahead, but by planning in advance, you’ll save money and won’t spend time wandering around the store. And don’t forget to take a quick glance online or in the newspaper for coupons before you go to save some additional cash.
Fresh is cheaper: Believe it or not, produce is generally equally or less pre-packaged than as processed foods. The key here is to make sure you don’t overbuy perishable foods, such fruits and vegetables, which could result in having to throw that food away along with your money. Instead, try buying a mix of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce is always the ideal option, but frozen is a good alternative with comparable nutrient values to its “fresh” counterpart. Another tip to save money in this department is to research produce that is in-season, as it tends to be cheaper.
Try canned or frozen: A similar alternative to frozen fruits and vegetables is those that are canned. When it comes to canned goods, choose fruit in 100 percent fruit juice and vegetables that say “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
Stay away from convenience foods: Foods packed as frozen dinners, pre-cut fruits and vegetables or other “instant” preparation foods can sometimes end up costing more than making them from scratch. Stick to buying foods in their raw, natural forms. It may take a little longer to prepare them, but you’ll save money doing it.
Compare prices: When browsing the aisles of the grocery store, don’t just blindly throw things into your cart without looking at the price. Compare the unit prices on the shelf to decide which product is the most economical. Additionally, try store-brand products because they are often cheaper and nearly identical to the name-brand product. And if store-brand products aren’t quite comparable in quality, remember it is completely acceptable to pick and choose which brands to splurge on.
Cook in bulk: Choose one day of the week to cook your favorite foods or recipes in bulk. You can always freeze leftovers if you make too much, and you’ll be more inclined to choose eating-in throughout the week if you have something pre-prepared in your fridge.
By following these simple guidelines, you can not only save some serious cash, but also you can choose nutritious and delicious food options while doing it.