written by Michelle Kish
Food is an important part of everyone’s budget. It is important because we need it to survive and important because it can often become costly. If you are concerned about eating healthy and concerned about your wallet, it may seem impossible to eat healthy on a reasonable budget. However, there are multiple strategies and tips you can use to help reduce your food costs while still staying fit.
First, buy whole fruits and veggies. It may seem easier to get the pre-cut celery, the pre-julienned sweet potato sticks or the mixed salad already in the bag, but in actuality you’re paying a premium price for all those extra cuts and packaging. In the long run, you’ll save more money sticking to whole bulk vegetables. On top of the cost savings, you can always make sure you weigh out your perfect amount, reducing your food waste.
A second great tip is to concentrate on eating seasonally. Seasonal eating is something humans used to do out of necessity (you just could not get a tomato in the snow nor in 115 degree heat). But now it can be something you do to help both your pocketbook and your health. Fruits and vegetables that are currently in season will generally have a lower price than out of season veggies. Knowing what food is currently in season will help reduce your costs and increase the variety of nutrients you are exposed to throughout the year. So, eat okra and eggplant in the summer, citrus and hard greens in the winter, and so on.
Speaking of seasonal eating, supplementing your grocery bill by growing food at home can be big help during production season. You don’t even need that much space to make a big difference. If you need help getting started, you can always visit The Learning Garden at Tom Graham Park for tips on what is easy to grow and when to plant it.
Knowing how much of a plant you can use is also a helpful budget tip, especially if you are growing food at home. For instance, broccoli leaves are extremely nutritious, but the only thing you find at a major store is the broccoli fleurettes. If you decide to grow broccoli at home, you can eat the leaves as a green during the long growing season it takes before the fleurettes form. This maximizes the food you get out of the plant with no extra cost. Do your research on what can and can’t be eaten, it may also help your grocery bill. Radish tops, beet tops, turnip tops are all edible and often just get thrown away.
There are many other tips to minimize your food bills like meal prepping or making large meals that are then also eaten as left overs throughout the week, composting or making your own soup stocks. Maybe we will have to pick this topic up again later!