Q: I am trying to stick to a healthy diet, but I am having a hard time with my finances. It’s cheaper to go to the dollar menu or pick up frozen pizza. Is there anything else I can do to stay on track?
A: There are many things you can do to eat healthy on a budget! First, create a menu for the week. Often times, dinner choices are made the day of the meal, leading to poor choices based on sales or impulse purchases. Creating a menu and shopping one day each week helps you calculate out the cost of the foods you will need and make adjustments ahead of time, if necessary. It also gives you the chance to check sales and get the best price on items from your list. Of course, every healthy diet includes vegetables and fruit. These can become expensive if purchased out of season. Check online for a guide to your local produce seasons. When a veggie is in season, it can be picked up at roadside stands for pennies on the dollar. An added benefit is that you will not find a fresher option in the store, which means more flavor and nutrients.
Additionally, while canned fruits and veggies are not a good option, don’t rule out frozen. Frozen produce is picked at its peak, and frozen right away, retaining its nutritional value. Many times frozen packages go on great sales, an opportune time to stock up. Last, you may consider decreasing your meat intake. Meat can be an expensive part of your menu. Having vegetarian proteins a few days per week can lighten the financial load. A bag of dried beans costs about $1.50 to $2. Cooking these up in a crock pot and adding some of those frozen veggies makes a healthy and tasty soup. Freeze some of the finished product for meals for up to 6 months.
Try some of these tips, and you will be surprised how much further your food dollar goes!