With Skyrocketing food costs rising faster than inflation, one sentiment commonly heard is “it’s too expensive to eat healthy!”
Buying fresh produce, meat and dairy seem out of reach with the current climate.
Where does our money go? By keeping track of spending for a month we can get an accurate picture of incidental food and beverage purchases that could be eating away at the grocery budget.
Cooking and dining at home can be an investment in your health and contribute savings for the overall meal budget.
Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store allows for the purchase of more whole foods that offer nutrient-dense ‘bang for your buck’.
In the produce aisle, buy in-season vegetables and fruits that haven’t been transported long distances.
Leafy greens are an integral part of the weekly menu for good health. Fresh or frozen, a variety of these antioxidant-rich addition to meals can offer important health benefits for all of your body systems, including cancer prevention.
Frozen berries can also be a key item for your grocery cart. With polyphenols and fibre, blue or blackberries, strawberries and dark cherries all offer a boost of good health.
By purchasing some of your vegetables and fruits in a frozen state, food waste can be reduced, which will help the grocery budget over time.
Frozen produce is picked at peak ripeness and flash frozen to offer an excellent way to add just the right amount to soups, stews, casseroles and other dishes at meal time.
For protein-rich foods, look to more plant-based options rather than meat more often. Dried beans, lentils, legumes and pulses offer a myriad of disease-fighting health benefits including longevity. Globally, the populations who have good health and quality of life, have one common dietary staple to recognize. The all-mighty bean! Rich in protein, vitamin, minerals and fibre to help with gut health, kidney beans, lentils, chick peas and edamame are powerful meal time boosters. Dried or canned, many of the world’s delicious cuisines start with bean and lentil dishes.
Seeds, a commonly overlooked plant-based protein food are another rich source of essential vitamins and minerals that are more economical than nuts. These are good to include daily. Pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, chia and hemp hearts are all powerhouse snacks and seasonings for cereals, salads and grain bowls. Sprinkled on top for a garnish instead of full portion servings will help stretch the nutritional goodness for longer periods.
For essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for brain health and fit into the anti-inflammatory diets, canned fish pack a powerful punch. Tinned varieties can be a grocery staple each week. Sardines, salmon, maceral and herring are small fish canned with bones that can offer an excellent source of absorbable calcium, vitamin D, protein alternative to red meat, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Roasting a chicken and using the meat for a couple of days, in a variety of ways can help with budget and health. Every part of the chicken can be utilized. The poultry dinner, leftovers for soups, wraps and casseroles with a last step of making bone broth soup will support thriftiness. These practises will help reduce food waste and strengthen the grocery budget.
Eggs are also an inexpensive meal that offers protein for any meal or snack in the day.
Visiting local farmer’s markets will help support your community and help promote local economy by putting your money where your mouth is.
Planning out meals in advance, and stocking key staples in the pantry, fridge and freezer can help keep food costs in tact. In addition, getting creative in the kitchen and eating at home more often will help stretch the food dollar. Monitoring daily spending and cutting back on ‘the latte factor’ will help to highlight methods to maximize the grocery budget.