Growing up, money was tight, so we ate a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches.
We also became overly familiar with boxed mac ‘n cheese, hot dogs, canned beans in tomato sauce or my number one favourite (at the time): noodles with tomato soup and grated marble cheese. Basically anything white or orange. During university, I have to admit that, at 25 cents a pack, I turned to instant noodles more than a few times to get through the month.We all do our best to feed ourselves and our families when money is tight. Sometimes it can feel like healthy eating isn’t possible.
Over the years I’ve learned from others. Being a dietitian and spending most of each day thinking and talking about food has helped too. I now feel able to make healthy choices for less. A little planning makes a big difference. I have a feeling I’ll never eat instant noodles again.
Ten ways to save money on food:
- Look for sales - Read flyers (print or online from home). If foods you like are on sale, plan your meals around the deals.
- Plan your meals for the week - Think about how you will use ingredients. If you’re buying broccoli but only need ½ the amount for a recipe, pick a recipe for another day that will use the rest, or buy frozen broccoli. There will be no waste and the rest can be saved for when you need it. Plan when you will eat leftovers.
- Choose foods in season or try frozen - Foods like fresh berries are expensive when they’re out of season. Try frozen for good quality and better value.
- Make a list and stick to it - Include all the ingredients and snacks you will need for the week.
- Shop once per week - Save money and time by not making daily or regular trips to the store.
- Cut down on convenience foods - Ready to eat or prepared foods usually cost more for less food. When your meals are planned, you don’t need to rely on convenience foods. You will know what’s for dinner and you will have what you need to make it. You can even prepare dinner the night before so when you get home you only have to put it in the oven.
- Compare brands - Different brands might have very different prices but be almost of the same quality. Read labels to get the best value.
- Buy bulk - Buying just the amount you need of ingredients you don’t use very often saves money and helps avoid waste.
- Use a slow-cooker or dutch oven - Cooking meat slowly can transform cheaper cuts of meat into a tender delicious meal.
- Eat beans, lentils and canned fish - Tasty, filling and nutritious, these foods are inexpensive and can be used in so many different ways.
How do you make healthy choices on a budget?