Happy National Nutrition Month! As you begin shopping for healthier choices this week, you may begin to wonder how on earth you are going to be able to afford it all! Due to some of the high prices found at grocery stores, buying healthy food on a budget can be pretty challenging. College students constantly on the go are finding that healthy food shopping is pricey and time consuming. Unfortunately for the time being, fruits and vegetables are costing more than the sodium and calorie packed items found in main aisles of the store. In order to stay healthy and keep off that “freshman fifteen”, here are a few tips on how to manage your money wisely and still get quality, whole food:
1. SHOP LOCAL. Research any local farms, farmer’s markets, or neighbors that sell food in your area. This food is not only extremely fresh and organic, but also a lot less harsh on your wallet. These distributors also give you opportunities to try foods not typically found at grocery stores to help keep a variety of foods in your diet.
2. KEEP A RUNNING LIST. Keeping a list in your smart phone is a perfect way to track meal ideas for the coming week. This cuts your time at the grocery store in half so you can get back to your school work. Keeping track will also give you an idea of how much you are going to spend BEFORE you get to the check out line.
3. BUY FROZEN. There is a stigma associated with frozen foods that implies that they are “bad” for you. Well, this is untrue for the most part. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables will allow them to last much longer and allow for any sudden changes in your planned meals. Also, research has shown that frozen seafood is actually fresher than seafood found prepped at the market. Typically, the fish is caught and immediately “flash frozen” for quality freshness. This is a very efficient way to extend the life of your perishable foods.
4. SAY GOODBYE TO 1 OR 2 ITEMS. You may find yourself falling for advertising perks and discounts once or twice during your shopping experience (don’t worry, we ALL do it!). This causes you to indulge in something you didn’t plan on getting and takes you over the budget planned. Try this: Every time right before check out, take at least 1-2 items out of your shopping cart, and tell yourself you will get it next time. This way you can focus on the meals you had planned and not over-spend.
Until we begin seeing coupons in the food industry discounting fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, we must rely on a bit of practice with shopping strategies such as these to keep within budget. Follow these 4 easy tips and make for a happy wallet!