We all know fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats are the best options when it comes to eating; but these good-for-you items are often much more expensive than their frozen, canned or drive-thru counterparts. Unfortunately for many, the dollar sign is more important than the nutritional value of the meal and their shopping cart is filled with frozen dinners and packaged noodle dishes.

With product sizing and portions differing from box to box, it’s hard to determine which product is really the best option for your money. One tip is to compare the “unit price” often listed on the price label on the shelf. The “unit price” breaks down the price by measurement so you can compare your canned and frozen beans’ price per ounce. It’s all about strategy!

In addition to shopping by “unite price” one of the best strategies for eating healthy at home is to use “the 3 P’s:”

  • Plan: Sit down before going to the store to plan meals and snacks for the week on an established budget. Knowing what ingredients you need and what dishes you will actually make with them is a good way to avoid buying too many perishable items that will go bad before you consume them. With your plan in hand, you can also browse local sales fliers to decide which stores to buy what ingredients. Remember to include leftovers in your plan, as you may not need to prepare food the day after a big meal.
  • Purchase: If possible, go to the grocery store alone when you are not hungry or in a rush to avoid impulsive buys. Remember, convenience sizes and pre-cut fruits and vegetables usually cost more, so even though the alternative may take more prep time, the savings add up. Fresh vegetables are more expensive when not in season, so seek out low-sodium alternatives in the canned aisle. Good low-cost items available all year round include beans, carrots, greens, potatoes, apples and bananas.
  • Prepare: Pre-cooking larger meals in advance is a great way to prepare healthy dishes to eat when you are in a rush or tired from a long day at work. You can even spread out your cooking by making larger portions and freezing meal-sized containers for later use. Be creative with your fruits and vegetables, using them in a variety of ways during the week to avoid getting burnt out on your homemade meals.

So, try it out! With some strategy, planning, and our tips, you too can eat healthy on a budget!


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