When your dollars are tight, the “two for $2” deal at a fast food joint sure sounds appetizing. But if you’re trying to do better by your diet, a greasy burger is not the way. Truth be told, if you calculated what you routinely cough up for coffees and lattes, pizza delivery, microwaved meals and frozen dinners, you’ve got the cash to eat clean. You really do. Starting today, commit to eating out less and strategize with these moolah-saving tips.
Buy produce that’s in season, on sale and freeze some of it.
Check the weekly circulars for good deals. If strawberries, bananas or blueberries are on sale, buy a few extra pounds and freeze some for smoothies and other nutritious recipes.
Plan your weekly dinner menus.
With a menu in place, you can be the savvy shopper who gets the deals on the ingredients you need to eat well all week. Otherwise, you’re making last-minute decisions and likely spending unnecessary coins. (By the way, it’s absolutely true that you should not shop on an empty stomach!)
Look for inexpensive protein sources and buy them in bulk.
Eating lean, chicken breasts three times per day, and supplementing with high-quality protein powders is cost-prohibitive for many. Instead, learn to love a variety of beans whether canned and rinsed, or dried and cooked in your crockpot), eggs, Greek yogurt, nut butters, nuts, seeds, skim milk and canned tuna. All are great protein sources.
Purchase frozen fish and shrimp instead of freshly caught.
Fish is nearly always cheaper when it’s purchased frozen. Just read the ingredients label carefully. You don’t want someone else’s butter sauce and/or seasonings messing with your wild caught salmon.
Make your own baked items and treats.
On Sunday afternoons, make up a batch of homemade tortillas (pennies for a package that would be $3 at the store), whole wheat pizza dough, oatmeal cookies, whole wheat bread, trail mix and/or granola bars. Homemade costs pennies in comparison to the same store-bought goods, and usually, the end result is healthier for you, too.
DeNita Morris is a freelance writer who keeps her body, budget and brood tight in Capitol Heights, Md.