Eating well without breaking the bank
Hilary McMahon, RDN, LDN, Capitol BlueCross | 11.15.16
Too often we assume that it's more expensive to eat healthy, but it doesn't have to be. With the right knowledge, you can eat healthfully within your budget. All it takes is some planning!
- Have a plan. Do you find yourself wandering through the grocery store looking for things to make for dinner for the week? Instead, go to the store with a meal plan in hand. This will save you time during the week. It also will prevent you from wasting food that you buy, but don't eat. That's like dumping money right down the drain!
- Make a list. Taking this a step further, don't just go to the store with a plan, go with a list. Only focus on the items on your list, so you're less likely to splurge on baked goods, processed snack foods, and other unnecessary or unhealthy items that increase your grocery bill. Don't forget to look through your pantry and fridge when making your list to see what staples, healthy snacks, and breakfast foods you need.
- Shop smart. Take advantage of weekly store circulars to see what is on sale. Hunt for coupons, compare brands to get the best deal, and use grocery store rewards cards that can save you money. Rewards cards track your purchases, and stores often will send you coupons items you frequently purchase. For things you use regularly, like meats, beans, and frozen vegetables, buy in bulk to cut down the cost.
- Buy local and seasonal. Locally grown produce is more nutrient-rich than produce that has traveled miles to get to your kitchen counter, and it can also be less expensive. Check out a local farmer's market for great deals on fruits and veggies. Keep in mind that local produce that's in season tends to be cheaper. Use this chart to find what is in season now for Pennsylvania.
- Cook now, eat later. Take advantage of your freezer and pre-make meals. This can help use up ingredients that may go bad. It can also prevent you from reaching for a less nutritious frozen meal that costs more.
- Make meat/beans, veggies, and a whole grain staple meals. Stick to simple meals and save fancy menu items for special occasions.
Remember: Plan, plan, plan. A healthy, yet budget-friendly lifestyle can be yours if you make it that way.
Hilary is a registered dietitian for Capital BlueCross. As a Messiah College and Penn State program graduate, she loves exploring the world of food and continually learning about the ever-changing world of nutrition. At Capital Blue, Hilary offers one on one nutrition appointments to help individuals reach their lifestyle and wellness goals, She actively participates in creating a healthier community through wellness initiatives, both within the walls of the Capital Blue Retail Store in Enola, as well as out in the community.