Thursday, April 1, 2010

13 Ways to Improve Your Diet and Lower Your Grocery Bills

All photos courtesy: Care2

This is reprinted from Care2. I have made my own comments in the brackets at the end of each point.

1. Double or triple your normal recipes and freeze the leftovers. You’ll dramatically cut down the cost of buying prepared and packaged foods. And, you’ll eat healthier when you’re tired or in a pinch for time. (Items like spaghetti, chili and stew freeze well and reheat easily.)

2. Use seasonal fruits and vegetables as much as possible. When food is in season it is cheaper. Plus, you’ll be doing your part for the environment by eating more locally grown food. (Root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, beets, etc. are usually very modestly priced all year round plus they are absolute powerhouses of nutrition. Baked "rooties" make a delicious side dish or main dish if you are vegetarian. Just take your root vegetables, place in an oiled casserole dish, season well and bake.)

3. Watch for sales. Plan your meals around some of the cheaper sale items you find. (Many supermarkets will have a "reduced for quick sale" section. Check it out!)

4. Add more beans to your diet. Beans are not only the “magical fruit” they can work magic on your budget since they are super nutritious and cheap. Dried beans can be cooked effortlessly overnight in a slow cooker. Place 1 cup dried beans and 6 cups water in a slow cooker before going to bed and cook on low overnight. Drain and rinse in the morning and they are ready for use in your soup, stew, chili, salad, or other recipes.

5. Eat more vegetarian meals. Meat tends to be more expensive (not to mention takes a higher toll on the environment and your body). (Her brackets not mine.)

6. Take a page from the chef’s notebook: use mirepoix as a base for many soups, stews, and rice dishes. Mirepoix is a fancy-sounding French word simply means chopped onions, celery, and carrots. These are among the cheapest vegetables and they add lots of flavor to your meals. (When making a stew, chili or soup, grate additional veggies into the broth. I would grate a zucchini, potato, and/or turnip into the stew at the start of the broth making. Once the stew was complete, the grated veggies had dissolved into the broth making it richer, more flavourful, slightly thicker, and more nutritious. Of course, all the rest of the vegetables you would expect to see in a stew were there; and, you could see those too.)

7. Shop at your local farmers markets instead of grocery stores as much as possible. Most farmers’ market food doesn’t have the built-in costs of lengthy transportation, distributors, warehousing, and other costs. Plus, the food is fresher and frequently more nutritious, and eating locally is better for the environment. (Amen!)

8. Grow your own sprouts and herbs. Growing your own sprouts is much easier than you think. Not sure how? Click here for my article on how to Grow Your Own Sprouts.

9. Buy seasonal produce in bulk and freeze it. From berries to sliced peaches, to chopped green and red peppers, many fruits and vegetables can be frozen. (Or dehydrated.)

10. Hit the bulk bins at your local health food or grocery store. Here’s where you’ll find the lower cost whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, and flour. They’re usually substantially cheaper than their packaged counterparts. And, less packaging is good for your wallet and the planet.

11. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. You’ll find the fresh, healthier options there. The center aisles are primarily reserved for the packaged, convenience foods that tend to cost more and be full of dangerous additives, trans fats, and sugar. (This may be the only place where being on the outside looking in is a good thing.)

12. Make your own snacks. Prepared snack foods are not only full of junk ingredients that you should avoid, they tend to be expensive. Make a batch of cookies, muffins, or other snack food with wholesome natural ingredients. (Don't forget to make extra and freeze.)

13. Plan ahead. A few minutes of planning the meals you’ll make and your grocery list can save you plenty of cash on impulse purchases you’ll be less likely to make.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be costly.

Via Care2

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