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10 tips to plan healthy meals on a budget
Are you trying to save money on food? Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. You can keep costs down by planning your meals for the next few days or week ahead. All it takes is being a little organized and you’re on your way to saving money and ensuring a healthy meal!
- Make a menu. Decide which recipes you will make for lunch and dinner, and then plan your grocery list. When you have a plan, you will be less likely to spend money on convenient meals.
- Plan your meals around sale items. Check store flyers, newspaper inserts and coupon sites online. Just be sure to buy and plan for foods that you will actually use so that they don’t go to waste.
- Check your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Look at the expiry dates of the foods and ingredients you already have on hand. Which ones do you need to use up?
- Avoid recipes that need a special ingredient. Some recipes call for a special ingredient that you may not have. Leave the ingredient out or try the recipe with an ingredient that you already have at home.
- Plan to use leftovers. Think about how you can use leftovers. If you’re cooking roast chicken with rice and vegetables for Sunday night’s supper, then make chicken sandwiches for Monday’s lunch. On Tuesday, use the bones to make a chicken soup and toss in any leftover vegetables and rice.
- Know what your family likes to eat. Encourage your family to help with menu planning and share their favourites. This will also help you look out for favourite ingredients and foods when they go on sale.
- Buy in season. Vegetables and fruit are cheaper when they are in season. Avoid waste by buying fresh fruit at different stages of ripeness.
- Look high and low – not in the middle. The most expensive items are usually put on the shelves where you can easily see and reach them. Some of the less expensive items can be on the higher or lower shelves.
- Stock up on the basics. Grains such as barley and couscous are inexpensive, healthy choices and can be used in many different recipes.
- Plan at least one meatless meal a week. Legumes (beans, lentils, dried peas), eggs, tofu, peanut butter and canned fish offer great tasting protein at a good price.
Note: For optimal results, exercise portion control and couple healthy eating with physical exercise.
Source: Reprinted with permission courtesy of EatRight Ontario at www.eatrightontario.ca. Contact an EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitian for free nutrition advice at 1 877 510-5102 or send an email at www.eatrightontario.ca.