Staying within your budget at the grocery store may seem like a challenge when you’re trying to feed your family healthfully. Name-brand products use flashy marketing to sell foods that are often costly and unnecessary. Pre-packaged meals may look more economical but are often less nutritious. So what’s a parent to do?
Healthy Family Fun is here to provide some simple tips that can make food shopping and preparation easier. Eating healthfully and staying within your budget is possible with a little know-how and a few minutes of planning.
1. Make a list. Preparing a shopping list gets you in and out of the grocery store more quickly, prevents you from buying items you don’t need, and can help you plan meals ahead of time. You can choose recipes that share ingredients or can be re-heated for another meal (see Tip #9!).
2. Double the recipe. Then, freeze the left-overs in family-sized portions for fast and healthy dinners on busy nights. This works best with soups, stews, and casseroles that can easily be defrosted, such as Spinach and Corn Casserole.
3. Buy non-perishable foods in bulk. You can use staples like brown rice, dried beans, pasta, and lentils in multiple recipes, and buying them in larger quantities often saves money. So, go ahead and splurge! Try using your lentils in this hearty and inexpensive Lentil Stew.
4. Compare unit prices. How do you know if you’re really getting a good deal? Check the unit price on the store shelf for products that come in different sizes and choose the product with the lowest unit price.
5. Avoid the center aisles. When you shop, stay to the exterior of the grocery store to steer clear of unnecessary snacks, drinks and sweets that you don’t need. Fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy are often kept on the exterior of the store- that’s where you want to be!
6. Take advantage of store sales. When staple items like canned beans or tomato sauce are on sale, stock up! These foods won’t spoil quickly and can be used in several different recipes, including Greek Chic Pea Salad.
7. Go meatless. Meatless meals can greatly cut down on the cost of your shopping bill and can boost your veggie intake. Substitute mushrooms, butternut squash, or beans for meat in recipes, such as the Butternut Squash Quesadilla recipe.
8. Use canned seafood. Seafood packs important nutrients for your family’s health, but buying it fresh can put you over your food budget. Canned tuna, salmon, and sardines are inexpensive seafood alternatives that can be tossed into pasta- or even used to top a pizza! Try making delicious Salmon Burgers with canned salmon.
9. Re-use ingredients. Find creative ways to re-use that half a can of beans you have left over from a previous recipe, rather than throwing it out. Throw beans into a salad or mix with scrambled eggs. Try sautéing left-over chopped veggies with chicken strips for a quick and easy stir fry.
10. Try Healthy Family Fun Recipes! The recipes on the Healthy Family Fun website are healthy and low in cost. So try them out and share with us which ones are your favorites!