Each January, many of us find ourselves feeling motivated to make some changes to improve our health—and we feel a little light in the wallet from all of our Christmas spending. Here are some tips to assist you in implementing some strategies to create healthy eating options for you and your family…and you don’t have to break the bank to do it!

Tip #1: You MUST plan ahead! Create a food budget and stick to it.

Tip #2: Plan your meals. Use cookbooks, friends, family and the internet to get recipes and meal ideas. Planning ahead saves you time in the long run and means fewer last-minute trips to the grocery store where you might make expensive impulse purchases when you only went for a gallon of milk!

Tip #3: No impulsive eating out! Make sure your plan includes any and all eating-out plans that you have for the week. This means business lunches, lunch dates, eating on the run on busy nights and special occasions. Don’t forget to include this in your budget.

Tip #4: Use what you have. Take a look in your cupboards and your fridge. Use what you can for the upcoming week’s plan to prevent waste each week. While you are taking inventory, get rid of the junk!

Tip #5: Shop smart. A multi-step tip for getting the most (and spending the least) out of your grocery visits:

Write out a grocery list and stick to it.
Search high and low (literally) to find less expensive generic or store brands on grocery shelves. Stores place the highest priced brand name items at eye level. Be a savvy shopper!
Fresh foods are found throughout the perimeter of the grocery store. Shop there first to get the majority of your foods. Head to the freezer section next and then fill in the gaps with middle aisles (The middle aisles typically contain highly processed and boxed goods along with expensive snack type foods and sodas. Things you really don’t need! Don’t go there and you won’t be tempted!)
Make sure you have a shopper’s card and select foods that are on sale for the week. Be proud to be a savvy shopper–don’t be afraid or embarrassed to use coupons.
Never go to the grocery store hungry. Impulse purchases are made on an empty stomach.
Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season – they are more delicious in season and less expensive. A few examples are:

Summer – melon, corn, tomatoes, peaches, berries
Fall – squash, apples, pumpkin
Winter – oranges, grapefruit

Support your local farmers market for in season fruits and vegetables.

Purchasing out-of-season fruits and veggies in the freezer section is less expensive and still healthy.
Shop alone if you can. Kids can get you off track pretty quickly and increase the food bill. However, if they come along, stick to your plan and you will be teaching them good shopping habits along the way.

Tip #6: Have a “meal-planning plan.”Another multi-step tip for making sure your meals are well-planned:

Capitalize on one-pot dishes. These meals are usually easy to prepare and are great as leftovers.
Double recipes and freeze half. (Don’t forget to plan for this in your grocery list.) You make two meals in the time it took you to prepare one.
Use beans! Beans cost less and pack a powerful nutritional punch. Cut down on the amount of meat in a recipe (saving money in the process) and add beans (which are delicious, nutritious and cost effective).
Buy yogurt in large tubs and portion out to single servings.
Switch to skim milk. A change from whole milk to skim milk can save a family of four $8-$10 per week and reduce calories by 5,000 and fat by 500 grams for the family!
When making cheese purchases, buy low fat and in blocks. (Slices are always more expensive.)
Have breakfast for dinner. It’s easy to prep, inexpensive and there are many healthy eating options.

Tip #7: When you eat out, do it smartly. Mind the following suggestions for eating out on a budget:

Share a meal or take half home for the next day.
Order an appetizer or salad as your meal.
Stick with water – sodas and alcohol increase calories AND the bill.
Stick to your weekly plan. Go out only on planned nights/days.

Healthy eating can be affordable. Like anything else worthwhile in life, a little effort goes a long way. Commit to a PRE-planned and healthy eating program for one month. If you follow the suggestions above, you’ll save time and money while bringing yourself and your family one step closer to achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t get discouraged when you find yourself falling back to old habits for a day or two – it will happen. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and get back on track the next day. Keep at it and you will soon find yourself very pleased with your accomplishments. Oh, and feeling better inside and out!


Kim's Corner

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