August 16, 2011

Top 10 healthy tips for saving money on food bills

At a time when money’s tight and you’re looking to make cut-backs in your weekly food bill, healthy eating does not need to go out of the window. Eating healthily does not have to be costly, and by considering healthier options, and making sure you actually consume them, can surprisingly bring down the cost of your shopping bill.
Here’s 10 tips that will likely improve your health and your wealth when shopping for food and consuming it the home or workplace: 
1. Avoid food shopping when hungry — This is one of the cardinal sins of food shopping; go shopping on an empty stomach and you’ll come back with all sorts of impulse buys that appealed when your stomach was growling, but probably don’t know. In all likelihood, those food purchases will be the fat-filled, artery-clogging processed foods that are going to have cost you both in monetary and health terms.
2. Avoid food shopping with the kids — Shopping with the kids leaves your purse or wallet in severe danger, and if they are hungry when you go shopping, it’ll be a double whammy. Kids will have been subjected to all sorts of clever advertising and will be pestering you for the far-from-healthy options like cholesterol-filling brontosaurus burgers and calorie-busting, decay-inducing, sugar-coated cereal. And if the kids are hungry, they’ll be pestering for an unhealthy snack to fill them ‘til you get them home too!
3. Shop with a shopping list — Those who shop with a list generally buy exactly what they need; those who don’t pay the price. Preparing a well-planned shopping list creates some discipline so that you can avoid walking up aisle after aisle of inviting junk food, which is just waiting to reel you in. If you don’t have to shop aisle by aisle, you can buy just what you want, saving you and your family from a junk food overload.
4. Plan to eat fresh soon after your shop — Even the best of intentions can be wasted. You buy lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and lean meat and fish, and then it just sits there as if it’s an experiment to recreate the discovery of penicillin. The best advice is if you are planning to create healthy meals, do so within a few days of your shop so that you use up the healthy ingredients you bought. You could make wilted lettuce a thing of the past by having salads earlier in your shopping week.
5. Buy unripened fruit and veg — If you know that you’re not going to be tucking into that fresh fruit and veg for a few days, then there’s little point buying already ripe stuff. Buy fruit that's still a day or two behind ripeness and avoid vegetables that look like they’re past their best. It’s quite likely there’s a new load of fresh produce in the storeroom waiting to be put on display, so ask at the store.
6. Buy in season — Although most fruit and veg is available year-round, it makes sense to buy when it’s in season. Not only will they be cheaper, but it’s likely that they will have only traveled a shorter distance, so will be fresher and likely to last longer when you bring them home.
7. Become a smoothie operator — Those bananas that have been sitting there ripening in the fruit bowl need not be ditched once they have metamorphosed into black bananas. Put them to good use and make a smoothie which will not only make use of the bananas but prevent you from feeling the need to snack on some other less healthy option. The same applies to many other forms of fruit, while certain vegetables could still be ‘recycled’ in a soup or stew.
8. Make your own healthy lunches — It probably seems as though your lunch break is continually being squeezed and the temptation to go for the easy option fast food meal can be great. Avoid that temptation and consider taking food left over from the evening meal to work the next day, or making a healthy sandwich or salad at home which is going to be much cheaper than the salt-packed, deep-fried fast food option.
9. Drink tap water — Is bottled water really what it’s all cracked up to be? Yeah, we all know that water is good for us and that recommendations are that we should drink around 8 glasses of water a day, but there’s nothing to say this has to be bottled water. Buy yourself a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water and you can keep it in the fridge if you like your water chilled. Keeping yourself topped up with water will stave off hunger pangs, which are actually usually just signs that the body is dehydrated rather than hungry. Drinking water will also limit your need for fizzy soft drinks.
10. Buy frozen — If you’re one of those people who is continually throwing away fresh produce, and you just can’t make proper use of it, then buy your produce frozen or freeze it yourself. Stock your freezer with small separate portions in freezer bags so that you can just take out what you need rather than having to thaw it all out and ending up throwing the majority of it away.