By: Sumi Tohan, RDN, LDN
Healthy eating is often perceived as being expensive. Here are some suggestions on how to save money while buying nutritious foods. Remember, foods that are high in starch and sugar tend to be the cheapest things you can buy at the grocery store.
In comparison, buying fresh, nutritious foods seems costly and is often the reason many people find it challenging to sustain healthy eating habits. A low-carbohydrate meal plan can actually be a cost-effective way to get better nutrition. When you look at how much it costs to get all of the nutrients you need, rather than just calories, meat, eggs, dairy, seafood, and vegetables actually provide the most value. Starchy and sugar foods, although cheap, do not provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, or protein.
Here are some suggestions to help you shop effectively:
• Rely on cheap protein. Good sources are eggs and tofu. Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are more cost effective protein sources for vegetarians rather than pricey mock meats.
• Favor simplicity. Use herbs and spices as condiments rather than specialty products labeled low-carb.
• By produce in season. Not only will it taste better, it will also be cheaper.
• Be aware of holiday specials. This is a good time to buy extra and freeze it to have on hand during times when meat is full-price.
• Where’s the beef? The price of beef is continuing to rise. Opt for other protein sources, such as poultry or even plant-based options like tofu or seitan.
• How about stocking-up to save? Choose products that have long shelf-lives, will be used regularly, and can be used in multiple ways.
• Invest wisely when it comes to those kitchen gadgets. Only buy kitchen gadgets that will help you save money.
• Don’t be a short-order cook. Learn how to adapt ingredients to suit varied tastes in the home in order to have to only cook one meal to save money and time.
• Doing your own prep-work can save you money as well. For example: A whole chicken is cheaper than the sum of its parts, so de-bone and separate it it yourself.
• Bulk-up. Buy protein in bulk-packages for a lower cost per serving, then batchcook and freeze it until needed.
• Drink like a fish. Hydrate with plain water instead of expensive calorie free drinks.
• Go international. Try Asian or international markets to find competitive pricing on produce, seafood, tofu, nuts, and even spices.
• Practice menu-planning. Use the store circular to figure out what’s on sale, and use those foods to plan your weekly menu.