Smart Strategies to Eat Well and Spend Less (Part 1)
Prices for many items have soared in the past year, making an impact on practically everyone’s household budget. High costs for basics, from services to household items, make eating well on today’s stretched incomes a challenge. But with attention to how you shop, and by preparing more meals from scratch at home, it’s still possible to enjoy a healthy diet and maintain a healthy bank balance. You may find you’re eating better than ever!
Stake out the store for best buys
Make your supermarket your partner in managing your grocery budget. Remember that processed and convenience foods cost more than raw foods you prepare and cook yourself. Start with the basics—shopping in bulk, buying key items on sale, purchasing store brands—and try some of the following tips to develop a smart shopping strategy:
• Shop the perimeter first to get essential meat, produce, and dairy products. Inner store aisles typically stock nonessentials such as soda, chips, cookies, baking products, cleaning items, and so forth.
• Read unit prices for food products to compare food costs ounce for ounce between brands.
• Select generic products for price savings, and check higher and lower shelves for lower-priced items; the most expensive products are typically stocked at eye level.
• Find fresh fruits, such as apples and oranges, and vegetables such as onions and potatoes by the bag, not by the piece, to get the cheapest prices. Always buy produce in season when it’s most abundant and cheapest, and compare prices of fresh vs. frozen, both of which are more nutritious than canned.
• Choose 90% lean ground beef instead of 95% lean, and simply drain the fat well after cooking.
• Buy bone-in chicken pieces and sometimes save a dollar or more per pound.
• Roast half a turkey breast to use atop salads or to make sandwiches instead of buying sliced deli meat. Use the bones for soup.
• Buy lettuce, cabbage, and carrots loose; the bagged, prewashed versions cost more.
• Look for day-old breads, which are still fresh and just as nutritious as just-delivered items, and check the store’s reduced rack for other specials.
• Mix up your high- and low-cost options. For example, whole-wheat pasta typically costs more than regular (white) pasta, so eat well and save money by mixing the two together.
• Look for in-store two-for-one deals on milk, and shred or grate your own block cheese to save money.
Look for more money-saving tips next week
In part 2 of this article, we will show you some pre-shopping steps that can help you save before you step foot in the store.
March 12, 2009
Judith H. Dern lives and cooks in Seattle where she makes a mean version of inexpensive pad thai.
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