With gas prices at an all-time high, people are looking for ways to cut back, but that doesn’t mean that you need to skimp on fuel for your body. Eating healthy food won’t siphon your wallet if you follow these tips from the University of Michigan Health System and the National Institute of Health.
Holly Scherer, R.D. a health educator with MFit, the health promotion division of the U-M Health System, says, “By planning ahead, shopping the sales, and trying out those generic or store brands, you really can save a significant amount of money while also providing healthy, well-balanced food for your family.”
With a little planning you can get most of your groceries for the week in one trip, which will save time and gas.
To really save, take it further with these money-saving ideas:
1. Assemble snacks at home in small baggies using foods like nuts and seeds, dried whole grain cereal, cheese, dried fruit, and fresh vegetables and fruits rather than buying less healthy, more expensive, pre-packaged and processed snacks.
2. One of the biggest savings can come from buying a filter for your tap instead of lugging home bottled water.
3. Buy in-season produce. Use local farmers’ markets when possible (check the Community Supported Agriculture website to find a market near you) – the foods are fresher and they frequently cost the same, if not less, because you’re buying directly from the farmer. Plus, the profit goes directly to the farmer which helps to feed his or her family.
4. Brown bag your lunch. If you spend $7 on lunch 5 days a week for a year, you will spend a total of $1,820. Invest in some eco-friendly fun containers to keep food cool and tightly wrapped in style.
5. Buy in bulk. Large containers of quick-cooking oats will cost less than individual instant packages; choose the largest container of milk you can safely use without wasting or spoilage. Compare the unit prices of the bigger and smaller containers on the store’s shelf.
6. Buy a whole chicken and cut it up into parts instead of buying pre-cut chicken breasts, wings, thighs, or legs.
7. Season and marinate your own meat; buying chicken with the bone and skin can cost a lot less, and can be easily removed.
8. Stick with the plain brown rice instead of boxed rice mixes, which are often loaded with sodium.
9. Look for the generic or store brand.
10. If you have a green thumb, try a container garden. Tomato plants can be purchased and easily planted, and herbs will grow in abundance and be ready when you need them.
Scherer suggests these additional tips: if you’re a coffee drinker, make your own at home and add flavored syrups to give it the barista touch; buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, and no matter how tempting it is, skip the fast food drive-thru window.
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