Eating Well On Any Budget
With the price of food continually rising, it's important to ensure we are still able to purchase delicious AND nutritious foods for the sake our continued good health!
Finding nutritious and affordable foods has become news worthy lately. This is especially true for those of us who are on tight budgets or have several mouths to feed. So how does a person stretch those tight dollars to ensure tasty and healthy meals for everyone in the family? Here are a few ideas that may help.
On A Budget
"Do you think I could purchase something even at the Dollar Store?" "Why not?", I replied.
A client recently reached out to me and asked, "Do you think I could purchase something healthy even at the Dollar Store?" "Why not?", I replied. If you go down the food aisle at the local Dollar Tree store (www.dollartree.com) you can find several items that can be utilized to create healthy and nutritious meals in a matter of minutes. Most of these stores carry spices, dried and canned beans, tuna, canned tomatoes, rice and pasta. Some even have a frozen food aisle that houses frozen veggies. Cook up some delicious meals utilizing the beans (protein), veggies and either the pasta or rice. Be creative. Google "Rice and Pasta Dishes" and see what comes up. You'll be surprised at what you can make!
Create Meals in Bulk
If you are able to, purchase food in bulk, as bulk pricing is always less expensive. For example, purchasing meat in larger quantities will save you several dollars per pound (#meateaters). When you arrive home, split out the meat into several packages that can be frozen for another day. Whole grains, like brown rice and oats, are also cheaper per serving than most processed cereals (and don't have all that extra #sugar to contend with. Much healthier!). You can do the same with spices, beans, pasta - you name it. Speaking of naming - ALWAYS name and date what it is you are portioning. I once split up a large bag of flour into a few jars and forgot to label and date them. When I went to my pantry to use one - I had forgotten what it even was or when I bought it (#Iforgot). It's especially helpful when portioning and bagging meat. Most meat should be used within 6 to 8 months to avoid freezer burn, keep it tasting fresh and avoid food poisoning. More about meat storage here:
Stock Up on Sales
Be Sure to Check Local Grocery Fliers for Sales and Coupons
Be sure to check local grocery store fliers that usually come out on Sundays for the week ahead - that is where you'll find the sales and coupons for the upcoming week. If fresh broccoli is on sale and you know you'll be eating it during the month, purchase more at the lower price and again - either prepare meals to freeze (don't forget to label!!) or freeze it on its own. But if you do freeze vegetables, it's good to blanch them quick before freezing. More about blanching here: https://bit.ly/3NIANY9
Shop for Seasonal Items
One of my favorite places to shop is at the local farmer's markets. Not only am I sure that I am getting the freshest produce at a reasonable price, I'm helping to keep a local farmer and his family in business. Sustaining a community means helping each other through local purchases. Sometimes, local farms will even offer "Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSA) " which means you pay upfront to the farm, but each week, you will be able to pick up a bag of seasonal, fresh fruits and vegetables OR even be able to pick your own. More about CSAs here: https://www.nal.usda.gov/legacy/afsic/community-supported-agriculture
Most of All - Don't Worry - You WILL Eat!
You'd be surprised at how creative you can become on a budget. Just remember - You don't have to eat "poorly" if your pockets are tight. And if you feel that you may need some extra help with stretching the food budget, remember that there are also local food pantries in your area that can supplement your food purchases with some extra staples. Don't be afraid to ask. We are in this TOGETHER!