When it comes to our monthly budgets, food seems to take up a big chunk of change. We all eat at least three meals a day plus snacks, desserts, and even drinks. This all adds up fast and can consume too much of your time and money. Beyond that, however, there is also the issue of health. Many people today are overweight. Much of that weight is due to overeating or eating the wrong things. Filling up on junk foods and sugary sodas has led us to an epidemic of obesity. The health concerns associated with obesity and overeating are horrid. However, there are some ways that you can learn how to save money on food while eating healthy. Here are some ideas that may be able to help you to live a happy, healthier and more affordable life style:
How to Save Money on Food – Take the Simple Approach
- Plan your meals – The first thing I advise when you are attempting to eat healthier is to plan your meals for the week. By planning out what you are going to eat you can make healthy, informed choices. You will be far less likely to splurge on a greasy hamburger and French fries if you have a healthy salad and chicken meal all ready to eat in your slow cooker at home. You can also buy all the ingredients you need for the recipes so that you do not get frustrated and give up. Planning meals also helps you to be more creative and varied with your cooking so that you do not get burned out on one meal or become nutritionally unbalanced. Meatloaf may be your favorite, but eating it three times a week will burn anyone out. By planning your meals in advance you can look up new recipes, try out new foods, and have more fun with your cooking. It is no fun to dig through a cookbook when you are tired and hungry, so save yourself the trouble and plan ahead.
- Buy on sale –Another aspect of panning your meals ahead of time is that you can cook, and shop, according to sales. Most grocery stores have ads in the local paper and even deliver them right to your mailbox. Take a look and see what foods are on sale and then plan your meals around that. Not only can you save money, but you will also create more varied dishes based on those sales. It is a win-win!
- Make a list and shop only once –Speaking of sales, one thing I always stick to is shopping only once a week. I get in, get only what is on the list, and get out. The list is vital. It saves me from making unnecessary purchases like junk food and desserts. Instead, I stick to my list and only buy the things I really need. I plan on snacks like fresh fruits and veggies and healthy dessert options, but try to avoid the cookie and candy aisle. By shopping only once I give myself less temptation to but that candy bar and I also stick to my budget. I do not know about you, but when I stop in to get ‘just one thing’ I end up spending fifty dollars or more. No. Once a week will have to do it.
- Do not eat out – Another way to avoid wasting money and help you to eat healthier is to never eat out. Okay, well never is an exaggeration. There will be special occasions or days with friends where eating out is acceptable. However you should not make it a habit. Food that is not made in your home has far higher levels of fats, sugars, and salt. They also give you less bang for your buck. I can make the same thing at home for a quarter of the price and it will be healthier as well. When you do have to eat out, try to eat small portions. Order off the appetizer section and remember that you do not have to stuff yourself. Enjoy the food but keep your waist line and wallet in mind.
- Avoid prepackaged foods –The same idea goes in the grocery store. Prepackaged meals are just not good for you. Not only do they contain high levels of salt and preservatives, but they are also tiny and not worth your money. Most of the meals they sell can be easily made with fresh ingredients for a far better price and will be better for you too. Not only that, but homemade tastes much better! Do not give into the temptation of a quick and easy meal. Instead when you are pinched for time you can try:
- Freeze a meal – Freezing a meal is a great way to have something tasty and good for you on hand in a crunch. Many times I have made a new recipe only to find out I had tons left over. Instead of eating on it for days (yuck) or throwing it out, I froze half for a meal later. That way when I am tired and everything in my day has just gone wrong I have an easy meal all ready to go. Most meals can be frozen and last for months with no problem. You can even mix and match meals for great new flavors like turkey chili hot dogs with leftover chili.
- Know your portions –One big obstacle that many people have when they are cooking or eating is portion control. Most of the things we eat are way too much for us. However there are programs that will help you to better be able to understand what a normal sized portion is. Cutting down your portions into reasonable sizes is the first step towards healthier eating habits, and cheaper food bills. Having a balanced meal does not mean having equal portions of everything either, so watch what you eat and make sure it is balanced.
- Cut down on meat – Speaking of portion sizes, meat is something that most of us eat way too much of. When you are cooking, try not to make meat your main dish. Instead, focus on incorporating a bunch of foods into your meal, with meat being just a small addition. You can also work on creating one or two meatless meals a week. Replacing meat or reducing it can drastically reduce your food bill as it is often the most expensive part of your meal. You will also be eating less fat and not feel as heavy after meals, which could mean you take that walk around the block. Altogether, cutting down on your meat consumption is a healthy and smart move.
- Take leftovers to lunch –While it may not sound like a yummy concept, leftovers at lunch are not bad. I think you will find, as I have, that by the time noon rolls around you are more than ready to eat that food again. Plus bringing your food to lunch cuts down on food you have to buy and is a healthy alternative to a sandwich or burger. By eating a balanced meal for lunch you will be left satisfied and not as likely to go crazy at dinner time. You can also avoid the temptation of an afternoon snack.
- Buy in bulk –When it comes to saving money, buying in bulk is a good idea. Many foods can be preserved by freezing, so things like meat are easy to buy in family sizes and then separate and freeze into individual portions. Buying food in bulk is only good, however, if it is food you will actually use and will not spoil on you.
- Drink water –“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” That famous quote holds true for most of us. Every day we are surrounded by fresh, clear water that is good for us and calorie free and yet we choose to drink sugary carbonated drinks instead. When you start drinking water you will feel better, lose weight, and even think better. Water makes up so much of our bodies, it is no wonder it makes us feel so good when we drink it. By replacing sodas with water you also can cut down on your grocery bill and dentist bill. A simple change can make a big impact.
- Shop seasonally –Shopping according to what is in season is a foreign concept to many of us. We have grown up in an era where everything is available year round. However, fruits and veggies that are in season taste better and are better for you. When you shop seasonally you also get the opportunity to try new foods and sample new recipes.
- Shop locally – This goes hand in hand with shopping seasonally. When you get your fruits and vegetables from local farmers you are not only supporting the local economy but you are also easting healthier. Because these vegetables have not had to travel as far they are fresher and probably do not have as many chemicals sprayed on them. You are also reducing the number of trucks on the road, which can only help the environment and your health.
These ideas are great ways for you to discover how to save money on food and eat healthier. You do not have to do them all at once, but making small changes over time can lead to a healthier, more affordable lifestyle.
Jason Miner, an expert freelance writer loves writing articles on different categories. He is approaching different bloggers to recognize each other’s efforts through “www.blogcarnival.com”. He can be contacted by e-mail at jasonminer8atgmaildotcom.