Posted by: TTCLauren | March 6, 2011

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

All it takes is a little bit of creativity and you, too, can feed your family more nutritiously for less.

Shop Healthy and Save Money

PLAN: Take 30 minutes to plan a week’s worth of meals and make a grocery shopping list and another hour to grocery shop, then the family can be good for a week,” says Shelley A. Rael, RD, a registered dietitian and health education consultant at the University of New Mexico’s Employee Health Promotion Program in Albuquerque. This is a win-win situation as food prepared at home is generally healthy and less expensive.

I take the weekly grocery flyers, see what’s on sale, and plan my meals around it. And, at this time of year, the crockpot is my best friend! I love to toss some concoction or other into the pot and come home to a delicious smelling house, and dinner ready to serve!

BUY IN BULK: Choose a “family size” pack of skinless chicken breasts at BJs or Costco along with a package of ziplock freezer bags. Divide the breasts into bags of 2, 3, 4, or whatever a meal’s worth is for your family, and pop them in the freezer. One thing that I do to save time and money is to pre-season those breasts before I freeze them. For example in one bag I may pour a couple tablespoons of Wildtree’s thick, rich, Teriyaki Sauce (with NO MSG and a fraction of the sodium of a Kikoman’s type). In another bag I may drizzle some of our Zesty Lemon Grapeseed Oil and sprinkle in some of our Dill Blend or Lemon Rosemary blend. For the third bag I may slice the chicken breasts into strips, and then add some of our Jalapeno or Hickory Smoked Grapeseed Oil, along with our Fajita seasoning. Then, I pull out whatever meal I want for the next day, and let it defrost in the freezer overnight. While it defrosts it marinades and tenderizes! The ultimate in multi-tasking. When I get home, I can toss the seasoned breasts in the oven, or onto the grill, or sautee those fajitas! Pre-seasoned meats in the store are pricey, and you can’t control the sodium, sugar, or chemical content. Doing your own is easy and cost-effective.

Do you buy yogurt? Buy one large container of plain nonfat yogurt instead of individual servings, for big savings. Then, each day you can dish out your portion, and sprinkle with one of our flavorful cheesecake blends (very berry, strawberry, lemon lime, pumpkin, etc). You can have a different flavor every day, or each person in the family can have a different flavor! Much cheaper than the individual containers, fewer calories, and no dyes!

STAY ON THE EDGES:  Shop the perimeter of the store. Most stores are organized with packaged foods in the middle. As much as possible, stick to the outer areas where you can find the healthier fruits and vegetables, meat, and dairy.

Eat “IKEA” STYLE:    That means “some assembly required,” says Ashley Koff, RD, a registered dietitian in private practice in Los Angeles. “Rather than buying the salad already made, buy the pieces and assemble it yourself. Instead of the ready-to-eat pasta dish, buy the sauce, the cheese, the meat, and some organic frozen vegetables.” Not only is it less expensive to purchase items individually, but you will also be avoiding the preservatives used to increase a packaged food’s shelf life.

Be creative. Whether it’s trying a new recipe with ingredients bought using coupons or putting a new twist on an old favorite, shopping and preparing different foods can be fun.   If you’re looking for new recipe ideas, visit my website, or attend one of my monthly meal prep workshops!

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