The costs of household goods are rising and food does not get cheaper. Such is the outlook in American homes this year.
With a tight budget and high prices, what steps can you take to make sure you and your family are eating healthy and tasty foods?
Planning is the name of the game, said Kristi Veltkamp, registered dietitian for Spectrum Health.
“Lack of planning is the biggest deal breaker,” Veltkamp said.
Does your daily routine involve the question “What’s for dinner?” »Do you rummage in the fridge or pantry at the last minute, hoping to whip up something suitable for dinner?
Maybe it’s time to sit down and think carefully about how you spend your money on food. It can help you avoid desperate late-night runs to fast food outlets or pizzerias – or expensive restaurants – and it will keep your wallet and waistline in tip-top shape.
Veltkamp’s 5 tips to keep your food budget under control:
1. Plan your meals
It is the n ° 1 solution to save money. Planning your meals in advance allows you to build within your budget. It sets you up for success every week, Veltkamp said.
It’s not just about dinner either. “You can pack your lunch so you don’t have to go out to work,” Veltkamp said. “And you can plan to use the leftovers.”
You should also aim for more vegetarian meals, they are cheaper and healthier. “Meat tends to be the most expensive item,” Veltkamp said.
With a creative mind, you can find new and innovative ways to use items like beans and rice, which are cheaper and keep longer, she said. Roast chicken tacos and all toppings, for example, make for a quick, inexpensive, and easy meal.
2. Get Crocking
If you plan your meals in advance at the start of each week, the Crock-Pot can save your life not only in money, but also in time.
“When you cook yourself, you’ll save more money,” Veltkamp said.
The unspoken message here: Stay as far away from restaurants as possible, they eat into your budget. (They also increase your salt intake.)
In general, Crock-Pot meals can be healthy. “It depends on what you put in it,” Veltkamp said. Canned foods are okay, but you need to rinse them first to reduce sodium.
“One of the ways to save money is to use more ingredients that have not been prepared, raw products like rice, potatoes, beans or even frozen vegetables.” Veltkamp said.
3. Buy in season
Local, fresh, and seasonal items should be on your list every week.
“They are richer in nutrients and they haven’t been shipped across the world,” Veltkamp said. “And if you buy a lot at once, they’re cheap. You can can them or freeze them and save them for later.
This includes berries, green vegetables, tomatoes, and more. Veltkamp said some people will throw their herbs in water and freeze them in cubes, then toss them in soups when they need them.
A word of advice: buy fresh seasonal items, then buy them mostly canned or frozen when they are out of season. Some fresh produce can become expensive out of season.
4. Buy wholesale
Bulk food stores are sometimes hard to find without a membership – Costco, Sams Club and others.
But if you manage to pick up some essential items in bulk, you can really save a bundle.
What to buy in bulk? “Things that are not going to go wrong quickly,” Veltkamp said. “Nuts, grains, rice, beans, flour – non-perishable items.”
5. Run away from junk food
It’s a big one. Junk food can sometimes seem like the cheapest solution, but in the long run, you’re just setting yourself up for trouble.
Junk food (processed foods, sugary foods) offers empty calories that only make you want more.
“Your body doesn’t need empty calories,” Veltkamp said. “If you eat healthy, you want less. “
Healthy foods simply fill you up.
Think about it: a bag of crisps costs a few dollars, but there are a lot of people who can sit down and make that bag disappear in an evening. A bag of apples can cost a bit more.
“But who sits down and eats a bag of apples?” said Veltkamp. One or two apples will satisfy the cravings and also provide much needed nutrition.
“Healthier foods tend to fill you up more and make you more satisfied,” Veltkamp said. “You don’t have the cravings you get with these processed foods.”
Bottom line: you eat less and you eat more.