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Monday, January 23, 2012

Eating Healthy and Saving Money, Too!

I have been making weekly menus and weekly grocery lists for years. As a working mom with three active kids, it was the only way I could figure out how to get food on the table each night. I also wanted to work within a budget.

Eating healthy can sometimes get a bad rap from people who are budget conscious. There is a common misbelief that fresh foods cost more. If everything you eat is out of a can, adding fresh foods may add more cost...but the reality is this day and age is that more and more of us eat out. Eating on the go and in restaurants is expensive and much harder on our budgets than buying fresh foods at the grocery store.

The truth is it is possible for us to live within a budget and eat healthy. It does probably require that we eat more meals at home. And it definitely requires that we take time each week to get organized, pre-planning our menus, grocery lists and the weekly trip to the grocery store.

Pre-planning alows us to:

    Design our menus for the meals we are going to prepare during the week. This saves a lot of time in the long run because we don't have to spend time each day deciding what we are going to fix, what we might already have at home as well as what we will need to buy at the store, along with then going to the store again to buy what you do need. Not planning costs us time but it also cost real dollars in wasteful buying and gas money.

   By taking the time to make a weekly menu, you can also think through the types of food you should be eating throughout the week. We try to eat fish at least two times a week and vegetarian two times a week for dinner. Pre-planning allows me to stagger the types of meat throughout the week which makes the meals more interesting and appealing to me and my family.

   It allows us to take advantage of weekly sales on meat, vegetables and staples. By sitting down with the Sunday paper and reviewing the weekly sales at your local grocery store and the coupons available, you can plan meals to take advantage of them, allowing you to save money.

   It gives us the opportunity to buy in bulk. If I end up with two meals with chicken breasts being used, for instance, I can buy the value pack which saves me money. When I get home I repackage to the amounts I need per menu and put it in the freezer for later in the week.

   Pre-planning and using recipes allows us to think through what vegetable we can buy frozen instead of fresh. Believe it or not, there are many vegetables that are equally if not more nutritious frozen because they hold their nutrients better. Check out this EatingWell.com article if you want more information on this idea. Frozen vegetables work well in stews, soups, casseroles, frittatas...actually, just about anything! Using some frozen vegetables, especially in the winter months, can really help in saving some money. This is true for fruits as well.

   Thinking through what you will buy at the grocery store can help with impulse buying. If it is not on the list you shouldn't buy it. The statistics on impulse buying are frightening. We waste so much money buying things we don't need. Making a list ahead of time will help avoid this bottomless pit which will keep money in your pocket and less unwanted calories in your stomach.

   By getting your meals organized for the week you end of with one trip instead of six or seven to the grocery store. With gas prices as high as they are, this can definitely positively impact your wallet.

Making use of all these pre-planning tips can add up to a significant amount in savings. I found some other websites that might be helpful to you in your efforts to be more economical in your grocery shopping. Here they are:

Money Saving Grocery Ideas

Eating Healthy On A Budget

Hope this helps!