Cooking on a Budget
A common misconception when it comes to making healthier food choices is that it’s expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! There are many ways you can save money while investing in your health.
Here are a few things to consider when you’re out and about at the store:
Eat something before you shop. You’re more likely to fill up a cart (and increase your grocery bill) if you’re shopping on an empty stomach.
Plan out your trip. Having a prepared list can give you structure in your shopping and prevent you from wandering down aisles buying thing you don’t really need.
When price is determined by weight, buy smaller items. When price is determined per item, buy larger items. (e.g., pick smaller oranges if they are priced per pound, but pick larger oranges if they are priced per orange).
Stock up on in-season produce. Pricing will vary depending on the time of the year. When produce items are in season, they’re relatively cheaper.
Protein alternatives. Meat can be a more expensive grocery item. Try out other protein alternatives that are relatively inexpensive such as tuna or legumes like beans and lentils.
Helpful apps. Store and coupons apps can help you save money on items you’re already purchasing. Some apps can also give you cash back on certain purchases. Examples include Walmart store app, Ibotta, Groupon, and Checkout 51.
Once you’ve completed your grocery shopping, you want make the most of your purchases.
Use up your fresh items first. This can help limit food spoilage and wasting your food and money.
Batch cooking. Similar to the point above, this can also help reduce the amount of food spoilage. Instead of leaving portions of fresh produce to sit in your fridge to be forgotten, prepare it so it’s ready to be eaten as soon as you’re hungry for it.
Find ways to use food even after it’s overripe. Have you ever bought a bunch of bananas that were the perfect shade of yellow, only to brown the next day? You can turn brown bananas into banana pancakes or browning avocados into guacamole!
Save your food prep scraps. Trimmings, peelings, and stems from vegetables can be used to make rich stocks and broths, or compost if you have a garden!
There are many other ways you can save and reduce costs while choosing healthy options. Although it is more time and work-intensive, growing your own food can also be a great way to cut costs. If you don’t have space for a garden but are interested in gardening, look in your local area to see if there’s a community garden where you can have access to fresh (and free!) produce. If you or your family are struggling financially in purchasing food, there are many resources you can utilize such as food pantries and governmental financial assistance programs.