How to enjoy a healthy diet on a budget

Food prices are ever increasing, leaving many wanting to budget and save money on food. There are many simple ways to significantly reduce the cost of the grocery bill and still enjoy a healthy nutritional diet. It can be easy to save money on food with a little know-how and careful shopping.

Here are some simple ideas on how to save money on food:

Plan meals

Create a meal planner for the week and use this to make a shopping list, as this prevents buying extras. Plan meals around food that is available in the pantry to use up surplus food and keep the cost of the food bill low. Stick to the shopping list to avoid impulse purchases. It is easy to be tempted by extras when grocery shopping, simply because the store is carefully planned out to tempt shoppers to part with their cash. How often do you leave the store with more food than you need? Planning your meals and buying staple foods can help to greatly reduce the amount you spend on food, as well as improve health at the same time.

Shop once a week

Shopping once a week reduces the temptation to buy extra food. Those mid-week shopping trips for essentials that have run out can turn into you spending more than you wanted. Stock staple items in the pantry to create healthy meals without the need to buy extra food. Dried, frozen and canned foods are great to keep stocked up, as these can be used to create simple meals. Shop at a quiet time in the day, and eat before heading to the store, as hunger can encourage buying more food than needed. Stress-free shopping allows time to compare prices. Find out when the local grocery store reduces fresh goods and shop, then buy reduced food and freeze for later consumption.

Make use of the freezer

Make use of the space in the freezer by freezing leftovers, as food that is left in the refrigerator will more than likely be forgotten and thrown out. Look for fresh food at reduced prices, stock up and fill the space in the freezer. Bakery goods are usually reduced for quick sale at the end of the day. If food that is in high use is on offer buy double quantities and freeze what won’t be used immediately. When cooking from scratch, cook double portions and freeze half to use another day to save time and money.

Cook from scratch

Pre-packaged and pre-cooked meals are expensive, as you are paying for the convenience. They are not as nutritious and filling as cooked food from scratch. By cooking your own meals you are cutting out all of the nasty stuff such as additives, preservatives, salt and sugar. Meals and snacks can be healthier while saving money on food. It is far more rewarding to cook your own meals. Make use of free recipes that can be found on-line. Once you get savvy with food, you will soon learn how to use up leftovers to create other meals.

Don’t let food go to waste

Always check use-by-dates and make sure you can use the food before it expires, if not, freeze it. If you have lots of extra veggies to use up, why not use them to make either a hearty soup, stir fry, stew or curry to provide a filling and nutritional meal. Left-over fruit can be used to create a fruit salad, or fruit smoothies; however, if it is too soft it can always be stewed to create a sauce. There are always ways to use up leftovers to make the most of the food, which prevents waste.

Buy store brands

Stores’ own brands are just as good, as they often contain the same ingredients as premium brands, just at a lower price. This is because you’re not paying for the fancy packaging and the advertising. You will be surprised at how much can be saved by buying store brands, and how much further money will go. You will still be eating the same wholesome food, just at a lower cost. Buy non-perishable items in bulk that you use, as these are generally cheaper when bought in bulk. Top up on any offers and deals that you can make use of, providing you can use them within date.

Preserve food

Food will last longer if it is correctly stored. Always check your labels to see what should be stored in the refrigerator, and what should be kept at room temperature. Food that is likely to go soft is best stored in airtight containers. Pantry items such as salt, sugar, flour and rice should be stored in jars to prevent them from becoming moist and to stop pests from getting at them. Fresh vegetables are best stored in kitchen paper and then put into a food bag to stop them from rotting too quickly, as they won’t sweat. Knowing how to store food correctly will keep it in good condition so it will last longer, which will reduce waste and reduce the amount spent on food.

By making a few simple changes, you can cut back on the cost of food. This can be achieved by planning meals, using up left overs, storing food correctly and cooking food from scratch. Healthy eating can actually be enjoyed on a budget.