March 27, 2012

Improving nutrition without breaking your budget

A common complaint when people attempt to eat more healthily is that nutritious foods are more expensive.

In some cases, this is true — have you compared the cost of white and whole-grain breads? However, you can eat a more nutritious diet without spending much more at the grocery store, especially if you are willing to put a little extra work into your diet.

The best way to start saving money on food is to do a little extra planning before you purchase any food. Creating a simple menu plan can save you money — and time — later on.

I recommend starting by planning just one meal per day, like dinner, for five days per week. You do not have to designate a certain dinner to a certain day, but it can be helpful to plan a quick meal for a busy night.

When you create the plan, factor in what you already have (wasted food = wasted money) and what is on sale at your supermarket of choice. Just this step will save you money by reducing waste and taking advantage of sale prices.

Personally, the biggest benefit for me is the time savings: no debate on what to eat, frozen products are thawed in the fridge and ready to go, and I may have even had a chance to do a little extra prep work when creating a different meal.

Once you have a plan, you can create a shopping list, which will help you save time in the grocery store, which has been proven to reduce the amount of money spent. It will also ensure you have what you will need without buying excess that will go to waste.

When you are shopping, really compare prices. I say "really" because although a boxed pasta side may cost only 99 cents, if it contains only 8 ounces, it is more expensive than a bigger package of plain pasta and a can of sauce, even though the total cost of the latter may be $2.

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