Maintaining a healthy diet is important at all stages of life, but as we age, it becomes even more imperative as our bodies change and require more nutrients. For many, understanding health and how to achieve a nutritious lifestyle is necessary, but for others, it isn’t so much that we don’t know about health, but that we aren’t sure how to afford it. Produce is more expensive than packaged foods, and so many people skip the broccoli for a box of pasta. But it doesn’t have to be that way – here are some tips to make sure you have a healthy diet that you can afford.
Make a Budget
Before you go to the store, you should determine what you can spend. This makes it easier to plan and also avoid those splurge temptations we can succumb to when we shop. Do a little research and get a grasp of what your staples cost, and how much you really eat of certain foods. We all have that shelf of never opened items like nuts or jams. The idea is not to add to that shelf.
If you need help making a budget, check out Spend Smart-Eat Smart. Not only do they have useful tips concerning money, but they offer delicious recipes that abide by their budgeting guidelines.
Plan Your Week
One smart way to cut down on your grocery bill is to have a list that you absolutely stick to. Spontaneous shopping is fun, but you likely end up with food you won’t eat, and that’s a waste in terms of both the food and your bank account.
The other benefit of planning your week? It’s healthier. You can choose recipes that are thoughtful and nutritious, and will last the duration. Be sure to portion out your food and trim any recipes that serve more than you really need – if you live alone, you don’t need to cook six servings. It’s boring to eat the same meals six days in a row, and also most won’t stay fresh that long, which means you risk food poisoning.
A little planning goes a long way. Once you know what you’re going to eat, check out the grocery store’s coupons and clip out deals for what you need. The only time you should snag a coupon for something off your list is if it’s for a regular staple, like salsa or mustard, that will keep.
When you’re at the store, look at the different options for each food product. Maybe the bananas are on sale, but they’re looking a little ripe. If you’re making banana bread, that’s not a bad thing, but otherwise, it’s not worth the savings since you won’t get to eat most of the bananas.
Read your labels and brands. Store products are usually less expensive (but not always!). Watch out for how much you’re getting in a container. One salad dressing might be less expensive than another, but it has less ounces. See what’s the best value per unit.
When appropriate, buy in bulk – this usually cuts down on that unit price immensely. This is good for things like rice or nut butters, things that won’t spoil quickly.
Lastly, stay strong at the check out counter. Those goodies are there to tempt you, but they’re unhealthy and an added cost, you don’t need it.
Be Healthy and Smart Every Day
Eating less red meat, processed foods, and baked goods are great steps to leading a healthier lifestyle. Make sure to buy what you’ll really eat each week, and plan realistic, but not too large, portions so that you reduce your own food waste. Throwing food away is like throwing away money, and with careful planning you’ll avoid this kind of thing.
If cooking and shopping are difficult, there are meal delivery services that come right to your door, every day. One example is Meals on Wheels, a national organization, but check out some local options, too. If you like to cook but you can’t shop, consider something like Blue Apron, which delivers all the parts of the meal prepped and portioned out, all you have to do is cook. Best of all, it’s several portions worth, so you only need to prepare once a week, or so.
Eating a nutritious diet isn’t difficult, and with a little preparation and a savvy eye, it can be affordable, too.