Have you ever felt that eating out was too expensive? I know I have. Fortunately there are several tips and tricks you can use for increasing the nutritional quality of your meal plan without breaking the bank.
1. Make a Budget and Meal Plan
Planning meals ahead of time will help you formulate a grocery list. Sticking to this list will prevent you from buying random ingredients, which will decrease food waste later. Try planning out a week at a time and use your days off to prep ingredients.
2. Cut Back on Eating Out
Planning ahead will also decrease how much you eat out. The cost of dining out adds of quickly, so this is key to balancing your food budget.
3. Take Advantage of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Boxes and Farmer's Markets
Both of these options are a great way to shop locally and in-season. In-season produce is not only cheaper, but it’s also tastier! If you need to find a CSA or Farmer’s Market, LocalHarvest is a great resource.
4. Learn the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen"
Buying organic produce can definitely get expensive, but thankfully there is a solution. The Dirty Dozen is a list of produce that have the highest pesticide residues and therefore, ideally would be purchased organic. The Clean Fifteen is a list of produce that has the least pesticide residue and can be purchased conventionally grown (Click here for the shopping guide download). Even if you can't afford any organic products, remember that the health benefits of eating conventionally grown produce greatly outweigh the risks of any pesticide exposure.
5. Cut Down on Animal Products
Meat is one of the most expensive items on a grocery list. Cutting down on meat and animal products is not only good for your wallet, but also great for your health! A predominantly plant based diet has been proven to help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
6. Buy in Bulk
When navigating the grocery store, head on over to the bulk section. You can buy beans, whole grains, cereals, nuts or whatever you use on a regular basis for a fraction of the cost.
7. Shop the Sales
Stock up when items go on sale, especially things you can freeze and use later. For example, if you see a huge sale on bananas go for it! You can cut them up and freeze them for smoothies.
8. Make your Food Last
Invest in "Green Bags" to prolong the life of your produce. You can also learn how to can or preserve your food to make use of all of your fruits and veggies.
9. Start your Own Garden
Growing your own food can be exceptionally economical. A $2.00 packet of seeds can give you salad for months! Click here for more information on starting your own garden.
10. Save Money Elsewhere
Cut down on your coffee habit (or whatever your vice). Use the money you save to invest in your health!