By Shannon Crocker, RD
I can’t be the only one who sees the potential of a bunch of perfectly over-ripe, brown-spotted bananas on the reduced rack at the grocery store? Not only are they a super deal, but they make amazing banana bread, smoothies and muffins.
Lately, I’ve been looking a little more closely at my grocery bill. It seems to be growing faster than the weeds threatening my flower beds. The rise is real and I’m doing more than paying more- I’m paying more attention to how I spend as I amble the aisles.
I know I’m not alone in wanting to nourish my family without breaking the bank.
Can you eat well on a budget?
One of the greatest concerns I hear when it comes to eating well is that it’s expensive. I’ve got some simple strategies that might flip that concern into the compost bin.
I use coupons and flyers to find great deals and compare prices between stores. I try my best to stick to my grocery list and try not to get side-tracked by end-of-aisle “specials”. Plus, I stock up on staples when they’re on sale.
The main must-do strategy for saving money is to cook more meals at home.
Eating prepared meals and take out is expensive and takes more out of your food budget than you might think.
You don’t have to be a culinary graduate to be great in the kitchen. Using basic ingredients can make all the difference. Here are 7 basic, budget-friendly foods that I buy to help me make simple meals and eat well.
7 Foods that Help Me Eat Well and Save Money
These plant-based protein foods are budget buddies and highly nutritious. Use canned black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and dried red lentils as they make it easy to prepare salads, soups, and chili. Bags of edamame (young green soybeans) are always stocked in my freezer for quick power bowl salads.
2. Canned tomatoes.
Cooked tomatoes are especially high in an antioxidant called lycopene that’s linked with protecting your cells from damage. Canned or bottled and diced or crushed tomatoes are ideal for making a simple pasta sauce, soup or stew.
3. Frozen berries.
During the local berry season, I enjoy a lot of fresh berries. They’re bursting with flavour – and with fibre and health-promoting antioxidants. But I also buy frozen berries all year long; they’re just as nutritious as fresh and super in smoothies, crisps and overnight oats.
4. Plain Greek yogurt.
From breakfast power bowls to smoothies, we eat a lot of Greek yogurt in our house. Greek yogurt has more hunger-crushing protein than regular yogurts. It goes on sale all the time, so that’s when I stock up on the big tubs (they’re more cost-efficient).
5. Whole Grains.
The health benefits of whole grains, like oats, barley and brown rice, are well documented. Since they have a long shelf life, I stock up when they go on sale. Oats, with heart-healthy and gut-friendly fibre are a breakfast staple in our house; they are also far less expensive than packaged breakfast cereals.
6. Value packs of meat and eggs.
Lean meat is nutrient-rich and packed with easily absorbed iron and zinc (important for a strong immune system) and a little goes a long way! Buy the big packages and divide them up into meal-size portions (freeze some) for better value. Eggs are one of the most affordable protein-rich foods in the grocery store. I buy them in the 18-packs for better value.
Eggs-cellent tip: There’s no need to buy brown eggs – nutritionally, they are exactly the same as white eggs, but they cost more!
7. Reduced-price produce.
I’ve saved the best ‘till last! For optimal health, it’s recommended that you fill up half your plate with vegetables and fruit. Reduced-price produce helps keep that portion of your plate highly affordable. I’ve seen some amazing deals like six apples for $1.00, two heads of broccoli for $2.50 and six tomatoes for $2.00. Buying this less-than-perfect produce helps reduce grocery store food waste too.