Eating a diet that is rich in nutrition doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Even if you are on a restricted budget you can-and should-plan your meals so that you get the most nutritional bang for your buck. With that goal in mind, here are a few steps you can take to get you started down that path.
*Always shop with a list. Keep pen and paper in the kitchen so you can make a running list through out the week as you think of things you need.
*Sit down with your grocery store sales circular and use that as your starting point for menu planning. Plan your meals around what is on sale, and stock up. Plan to buy at least enough for two or three meals.
*Include foods from at least three of the food groups at each meal. Not sure what the food groups are? Go to www.mypyramid.gov for the most up to date information.
*Buy fruits and vegetables in season. They are always cheaper and taste better. Can or freeze them for later use.
*Keep in mind that dinner every night does not have to contain some form of animal based protein. Beans and tofu are excellent sources of both protein and fiber so make one night each week a bean/tofu night. Have a pasta night using whole grain pasta, a vegetarian night and a left over night.
*Keep a collection of the recipes and meals that your family particularly like. That just makes menu planning easier in the future.
*When you get home from the grocery store with your ‘stock up’ items separate, label and store them individually right away. For example, if chicken breasts were on sale and you bought four packages that each contain three breasts, open all four and individually package each breast. That way you can use only the amount you need on any given day.
*Keep nutritious snacks on hand. Fruits, vegetables, cheese, nuts and whole grain crackers are good ideas. Remember to prepare individual snack size packages as soon as you get home from the store.
*Shopping with coupons can save you money but only when used with discretion. Plan your list with your sales circular first and then go through your coupons. That way you will not be as tempted to buy something just because you have a coupon for it.
Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to get the knack of planning nutritious and inexpensive meals. It takes a little bit of thought and practice but the results are well worth any effort you put into it.