Living a healthy lifestyle is all the rage these days, and we’re here to show you how to eat better for less. That’s the down side of trying to pay attention to your health and wellbeing, and/or that of your family if you have one – the healthier lifestyle choices aren’t always the cheapest ones.
Healthy Living Tips On A Family Budget
Let’s start with a piece of advice that’s often the most overlooked: plan your menu – then we’re going to look at making a shopping list, how to choose foods that are healthier choices, how to avoid over-buying and finally how to spot the bargain purchases.
Meal planning: menu planning is simplicity itself, and helps you to overcome the likelihood of blowing the budget simply because you buy items you don’t need, or because you’re unsure as to what’s for dinner Monday through Sunday. It’s also a great way to get the family involved, the consequences of which allows you to educate your family whilst also giving them a say in what they’re eating.
This way they can’t groan when they’re served up a plate full of steamed fish and vegetables on Wednesday night, or a fabulous butternut squash and chicken on Saturday.
The shopping list: once you’ve planned out your weekly menu you can write out your shopping list. From a logical perspective you can’t write a list out if you don’t know what you need for the week ahead so step one (the meal planning) is really important. A great little tip for the shopping list is to write it out in the order that you’re going to shop.
Don’t put the fresh produce at the bottom (for e.g.) if that’s the first section you’re going to walk through, and keep the food groups/ non food groups separate – this prevents the frustration the arises when you’re trying to find an item on your list but can’t … because you put the apples with the detergents, and the pizza with the bathroom and kitchen cleaners.
Choosing alternatives: this is a great piece of advice, particularly when you’re in the transitional period from how you ate previously to how you’re all going to eat in the future. Basically you need to read food labels, and aim for lower fat/lower salt/lower sugar choices. They are there, on the shelves, you’ve just got to spot them.
To give you a few ideas:
- Full fat milk to half or non-fat
- Bagels to whole-wheat muffins
- Buy canned tuna in water, rather than in oil
- Turkey over chicken
- Trimmed beef cuts – i.e. fat removed
- White sauces are higher in calorific value, so choose red ones
- White bread to wholegrain
- Swap portions – more vegetables than meat
- Regular pasta to whole-wheat
- Lower or no salt, using things like garlic herbs and spices to flavor food
As you can see, there are lots of clever, easy-to-do alternatives, and you’d be surprised as to how many will lower your food budget.
Don’t overbuy: this one’s real easy; eat before you shop. Shopping on a hungry stomach is the single easiest way to blow your budget. Why? Because the smells (cleverly designed to entice you by the way) found around the store work much easier on someone that hasn’t eaten, as opposed to some that has. The bottom line is this: you will shop with your stomach rather than your head, which can get expensive.
Have a snack, a hot drink, something to fill the hole in your stomach, and you’ll stick to your shopping list with ease.
Spot the bargains: again, another easy one. Sometimes the best bargains are the ones that are about to go out of date, so always check these out. A freezer is a great place to store these kind of products, as the fact that the day after is their ‘done, gotta be sold’ date is irrelevant if you freeze them straight away.
Shopping an hour before the store closes is another great way to snap up great deals. A lot of foods are perishable, and will need selling before closing time. Meats cooked in the store need to be gone same day, as do a lot of breads. Finally consider buying frozen vegetables rather than fresh – the freezing process doesn’t damage the produce, and you’ll often find that you get more (in weight) for your money.