Anyone can learn how to budget and still eat healthy. Smart meal planning and frugal shopping can ensure that you're eating healthy but still maintaining a grocery budget.
Take Time to Plan Your Meals Before Shopping
Planning your meals, including snacks, can be very helpful when you're trying to stick to a food budget. When planning your meals, avoid junk foods and foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fat. Save money on beverages by avoiding alcohol and planning to drink mostly water.
Plan what you'll eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner each week, and include ideas for healthy snacks you'll want to have in the morning and at night (you can get recipe ideas by entering your desired main ingredients into a search engine). Make a list and go shopping when the grocery store is quiet; you'll be less stressed while shopping and less likely to make impulse buys. Budget enough for the items you need, but remember that treating yourself a little will make it easier to stick to the budget since you won't feel deprived. Stick to the items on your list when you go shopping.
Know Where to Look for Bargains
Grocery stores put the most expensive brand name products at eye level on the shelf, so look at the uppermost or lowermost shelves to find the cheaper off-brand products. Look for special promotions on staple foods like rice, beans, lentils, pasta, broth, canned and frozen goods. Buy in bulk whenever possible, and freeze surplus quantities of perishables like meat for later use.
Stock Up on Staples
Staple foods are foods like beans, rice, lentils, pasta and canned good that can be cheaply purchased and used as the base of many meals. Fresh vegetables, meat and sauces can make these foods more interesting. Buy staples in bulk when you find them on sale, since they usually have a long shelf life.
Cook for Economy
The way you cook can help you cut your grocery budget as well. Save your vegetable waste and boil it to make homemade vegetable stock; this way, you'll save money on canned stock and powdered soup base. Slow cooked dishes allow you to use cheaper cuts of meat, and one pot dishes often save money by leaving leftovers for the next day. Soups and stews are a great way to get more vegetables into your diet or to use up leftovers in an interesting new way.
Take the stress out of meal planning and save money on meals by making leftovers and freezing some of them to eat as lunch or a snack later. Take advantage of spices and condiments in your cooking, and keep a supply of them on hand. Spices and condiments make your food taste better and can make even the simplest meals a lot more interesting. Keep your favorite herbs and spices, vinegar, tomato and other sauces, on hand while cooking, and don't be afraid to try new dishes. Variety is one of the keys to a healthy diet.