June 12, 2012 • In web :: Features
Eating healthy on a budget
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If fresh is scarce, Hill recommends frozen instead, which can be more nutritious because produce is frozen within hours of being picked, thus stopping the enzymes that degrade nutrients over time. Avoid cans, though, as they’re packed with sodium and preservatives. A boon to buying frozen is that frozen foods often go on sale, whereas fresh produce typically doesn’t. Throw in a coupon, and you might even come out ahead of the farmers’ market set.
In addition to easy access to fresh food, I’m lucky enough not to suffer from any significant allergies or dietary restrictions, aside from just really hating mushrooms. For those managing such issues, a $100 budget can still be achieved, but requires a bit more planning around what you can and cannot eat.
At the end of August, I came in under my budget with 22 cents to spare. It was much easier to accomplish than I’d expected. Turns out it wasn’t so much about changing what I ate, but just about changing the way I thought about food. Here are five tips that helped:
1) Plan your meals and shopping trips: It sounds elementary and simple, but it’s the absolute most important step to keeping your grocery costs down.
2) Cook all your food at home: In the beginning, try to focus on meals that are fast and that yield large batches that can be frozen for leftovers. Try: Soup, casseroles, pasta and quiche.
3) If you can, cut meat from your diet: Try it for a month. Afterward, you’ll find that instead of basing your meals around meat, meat will simply become another ingredient for you to cook with, which will save you a lot in grocery costs. If you really require meat in your diet, try cheaper cuts, like stewing beef or bone-in chicken legs.
4) Cut processed food from your diet: It won’t be fun, but do it. It’s healthier in the long run.
5) Use coupons, but only for items you’re actually going to use: A dollar off a $5 box of sugary cereal isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good. It’s sugary, expensive and you probably wouldn’t have bought it otherwise.
Looking for more ways to make sense of your money? Check out the Shameless money issue on stands now!
Melissa Wilson is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. She has worked with OpenFile, the Toronto Star, This Magazine and Spacing, among others. She writes about cats, grammar and municipal politics on Twitter @mawilson.