Healthy eating doesn’t mean you also need to put your spending on a diet. It’s possible to eat well while on a budget. Here are some tips for keeping that grocery bill low:
Come up with a game plan for your grocery trip by looking through coupons and store circulars. Base your meals on the deals — and keep your schedule in mind as you identify dishes for the week.
Plan to use leftovers. Wasted food means wasted money.
Store extra food or bulk purchases in your freezer. Label clearly.
Most important: Know what’s in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer — and keep them organized.
You can rework dinner leftovers for easy school lunches. Turn that roast chicken into a quick stir-fry, pasta into pasta salad, or mashed potatoes into shepherd’s pie.
The same transformation can be done with breakfast. Just about anything can be tossed into oatmeal, while tomato sauce can be a starting point for a quick shakshuka (eggs poached in tomatoes).
Utilize your freezer
Bag up any ingredient or leftover meal and — here’s the key — label it. Keep a roll of painters tape and a permanent marker to stamp the date and food name to the bag.
This makes it easy to freeze bulk amounts of in-season fruit, healthy meals to defrost and enjoy throughout the week, or a portion of the vegetable chili you made way too much of.
Do the work
Convenience can cost more. Consider eschewing packaged goods or broken down ingredients and instead work with whole foods. Whole poultry can be cheaper than already cut up birds, and just as tasty with recipes such as this Harissa Roasted Chicken.
A package of rolled oats can produce a variety of dishes (granola cereal, oatmeal, granola bars, smoothie filler, etc). You have more control over the contents of your food as well, which leads to tasty recipes such as this one for chewy granola bars.
If you happen to have a green thumb, a vegetable or an herb garden may be a good investment.
Opt for different sources of protein
Meat can be costly, especially when compared to alternative sources of protein such as beans, lentils, tofu and eggs.
If you don’t want to give up meat entirely, incorporating other protein sources can bulk up a dish.
Or, opt for cheaper cuts of meat. A slow cooker can render the toughest cuts into tender bites.
The amount of protein an adult needs in a day varies on age, gender and physical activity — ask your doctor or nutritionist for an amount. ChooseMyPlate.gov offers a look at the protein intake for adults and children who take part in less than an 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day.
The following amounts equal to one ounce of protein: 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish; ¼ cup cooked beans; 1 egg; 1 tablespoon of peanut butter; or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds.
1 ½ cups cooked lentils
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Mash lentils (a food processor works) and put in a bowl.
3. Mix in the rest of ingredients and form into balls.
4. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake 13-15 minutes.
5. Remove from baking sheet and serve.