Ever find yourself at the grocery store overwhelmed and frustrated about which foods to buy that are healthier and less expensive, even though you have a list in hand? It’s important to become an avid label reader, but you don’t want to spend too much time in doing so. After all, most of us are pressed for time as it is and if you’re anything like me then grocery shopping might be one of your least favorite things to do. I like to get in and out quickly.
The first rule of thumb is to conduct 80-90% of your shopping in the outer perimeter of the grocery store. This is of course where all the fresh produce, fish and meat, dairy, and breads are typically found. Staying along the outer perimeter encourages healthier eating as you stay closer to the foods that God intended you to eat. When you do find yourself in the inner aisles, keep in mind that products that include the words light, natural, and healthy often don’t have any of those attributes. Pay attention to the serving size, amount per serving and percentage of daily values, and vitamins along with the product ingredients. Also, notice the first ingredient that the product lists. This is usually one of the key ingredients. So, if it starts out with corn syrup, hydrogenated canola, soybean, unbleached flour, cornstarch, etc. I would immediately put it right back on the shelf if I were you. It will not serve your body well. Here are 8 tips to help you eat healthier and save money.
1. My favorite place to get vegetables is at my local farmers market. It’s fresh, organic, and comparatively inexpensive to the grocery store. But, the farmers market isn’t always an option. So, when heading to the grocery store, grab as many vegetables that you can manage to consume within the week. Do not buy the “lazy-lady” way by getting the veggies that are already cut up for you. It will be almost double in price and you won’t get as much in the pre-cut bags. I plan Sundays as my “grab-n-go” cut up day. My son likes to help me as well. We cut up vegetables and put them into baggies for easy snacks all week. I encourage you to reach for veggies any chance you get! Broccoli, carrots, snow peas and sugar snap peas, celery, cherry tomatoes, radishes, and cucumber are a few of my favorites.
2. Fruit can be expensive at times, especially if it’s out of season. If in fact the fruit you are looking for is out of season, go to the frozen section and see if it’s available. Make sure the fruit isn’t coated in sugary syrup, just get the fruit by itself. It won’t taste exactly as good as the fresh, but it won’t go bad in a week and you’ll still benefit from its nutrients.
3. I eat lots of oatmeal. My favorite is Steel-cut oats! Don’t reach for the instant oatmeal even through it’s “convenient.” It’s loaded with sugar and the cost of the convenience packs are ridiculous in price. I prepare a large vat of oats for the week. I put them in a 11X14 baking dish when finished cooking, cover and refrigerate. Then, in the morning I’ll spoon out just enough to warm up and eat. You can get a bag of steel-cut oats for around $2.70 that will last you for several weeks. The 10-pack of sugary instant oatmeal will cost you around $3.50 and usually one packet won’t even feed a bird of an eater.
4. Into snacking on chips? Ever tried Kale chips? I L-O-V-E them! You can make them yourself very easily for next to nothing. They are incredibly nutritious and they conquer the need for a crunch. All you need is kale, olive oil, and sea salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 375 degrees. Kale only costs about a dollar a bunch while the pre-made kale chips cost over $6.00 for a very small bag.
5. Juice!!! Your body will thank you. I juice almost daily and I can tell a difference on the days that I don’t. You may not want to purchase produce to juice, but here’s a thought…what about the veggies and fruits that are bruised and are going “bad” in your refrigerator? You could juice them instead of throwing money down the drain. The nutrients will hit your body at the cellular level and give you a natural energy boost!
6. When it comes to fish and meat, you get a better value when you buy a larger quantity. You obviously don’t need to prepare it all at once. Break down the large quantity when you get home into freezer bags. Just make sure to write down the purchase and consume by date and what type of fish or meat it is on the bag with a marker. Ever cook a whole chicken? It can supply several meals for large families and you can use the scraps for a homemade soup later.
7. Buy store brand items when you can. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll save just by going generic!
8. Reduce calories by eating on a smaller plate. That way you won’t have to see if your “eyes truly are bigger than your stomach!” Start out will smaller portions and you’ll probably find that it’s all the food you require.
Shop right, save money and shave calories. Simple adjustments can make a big difference in your wallet and on the scale!