The Super Market Shuffle: 5 Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget
Eating healthy starts with the foods you bring home to your families, but healthy meals and inexpensive eating aren’t necessarily one and the same. Many Michigan families are creating diets based on fresh, wholesome ingredients, in a budget-friendly way. How do they do it? Here are a few favorite tips:
1) Do the Homework – Look for good deals before hitting the store, and use ingredients on sale to plan a meal plan for the week. Score free coupons online, review the newspaper ads and organize the coupons that come in the mail and at the store in a binder or folder. Compare what’s a good deal with the ingredient list for favorite recipes, or try to build your menu around the ingredients on sale (try Epicurious for a free online tool). Also, look for deals in places you might not expect or know about, like BCBSM’s Healthy Blue Xtras, where you’ll find deals at Plum Market, Westborn Market and more. From there, pull together a meal plan for the week!
2) Buy in Bulk – If there’s a great sale on lean meats or blocks of low-fat cheese, stock up! Freeze extra fresh meats to retain their nutritional value and great taste over the weeks to come. Just mark the date and contents on the freezer-safe storage bags. Large blocks of cheese can be used for multiple purposes – cut into wedges for snacks, and grate your own for a treat on top of salads or tacos. Blocks of cheese are typically less expensive, and go on sale often.
3) Re-allocate Your Snack Food Budget – Yes, fresh produce is expensive, but so are many candies, cookies and other snack foods. Skip the inside aisles at the grocery store and stick to the perimeter – make a challenge to shop the produce, meats and dairy sections and replace the processed, fatty snacks and prepared foods in the aisles.
4) Be Prepared to Do the Dirty Work – The most convenient way is likely the most expensive. Shopping healthy, yet economically may mean doing a little prep. Buy whole carrots and trim them into snack-size pieces. Cut lettuce instead of buying the bagged variety. You get the idea!
5) Shop the Frozen Section – Check packages carefully to ensure extra sugar, syrup, salt and such haven’t been added, but most frozen fruits and vegetables are a great way to get some of your 5-9 suggested servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Some of our favorites are berries, green beans, sweet corn and squash.
How do you stick to your grocery budget and your healthy eating goals for the New Year? Share your tips with us, and be sure to check out all the great Healthy Blue Xtras deals available to BCBSM members at bcbsm.xtras.
Photo credit: Mike Navin