If you’ve been grocery shopping lately- and especially if you are trying to feed a family, you are well aware of the rising cost of food. When you are trying to stick to a budget, it can be an even greater challenge to fill your cart with nutrient-dense foods so it’s a good idea to have a high food cost action plan.
“With the rising cost of food, it isn’t simply enough anymore for families to be creative with their grocery spending by clipping coupons and scanning flyers to save money at the grocery checkout. High costs means finding new ways to save,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
For the sake of saving money, you don’t have to cross healthy foods off of your list, though.
“There is a common perception that healthier foods are more expensive than junk foods. That isn’t necessarily true. That said, to feed your family nutritiously for the least amount of money, you need to be informed about nutrition, cooking and food costs in order to develop a plan that works,” says Schwartz.
Eating healthy to save money and save your health
While the most obvious benefits of eating healthy is to preserve and maintain your family’s health but there are other benefits which involve your finances.
It may seem like you are saving money in the short term by skimping on certain food groups, but eating unhealthily can create other costs in your future. A recent study from the University of Toronto showed that people who were food insecure (e.g. didn’t eat healthily because of financial limitations) were far more likely to endure health problems compared to people who were food secure (found ways to afford healthy food).
And what’s more is that people that didn’t eat well incurred additional health related costs (e.g. medications and treatment). Taking care of your health today is important for your financial and for your physical health.
In order to get the most mileage for your money, it is a good idea to fundamentally shift the way you approach how you feed your family and create a high food cost action plan.
DIY all the time
One of the greatest costs in your grocery cart is not a food group, but a food service. You pay a premium for convenience, whether it is for pre-packaged meals, ready to assemble meals or kits. You’ll pay a fraction of the price if you make your own meals from scratch. The other issue with these meals is that they are loaded with sodium and preservatives. Dollar for dollar, these foods provide less nutrition.
For extra savings in the meat department, buy bigger cuts of meat (e.g. a whole chicken, a side of beef, etc.) and cut it yourself.
Avoid marketing and trends
Food, like a number of other things in our society, follows fashion and trends. When certain ingredients or food preparation methods are trendy, you’ll pay a premium for it. Stay true with your staples that provide the most nutrition for the least amount of money, like eggs, legumes, whole wheat pastas, canned tomatoes and canned fish.
Focus on waste prevention
Want to get more mileage out of your healthy grocery budget? Use up what you’ve got first and base your menu planning around existing supplies in your pantry and fridge. Wasting food is literally wasting money.
Adopt a rotation method where new stock goes in the back. Date and label everything in your freezer. Keep produce from spoiling by storing it separately (produce in contact with other produce ripens more quickly) in glass containers or bags.
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