Have you ever gone to the grocery store and come back home with a ton of food and then nothing to make for dinner? All those ingredients but not a well-thought out plan of what to do with them? Having a lot of great nutritious food is great, but without a plan, you could still end up wasting most of what you purchased.
Did you know that it’s been estimated that Americans throw away 90 billion pounds of food each year either at home or when eating out? Not all food that is wasted can be saved and eaten, but it’s been proven that a lot of food waste could be prevented, especially at home. Having a plan will help you Go Further with Food.
You should be cooking at home more and eating out less. Most foods prepared at home are cheaper and more nutritious. A well-thought out list will help your budget and get you through your grocery store faster.
A good place to start is right in your own kitchen. Here are a few tips that will help:
Plan Meals Based on the Foods You Already Have on Hand.
- Look in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry for foods that need to be used up.
- Write a list of the ingredients you still need
- Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days. It is especially important for perishable foods, like fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products and seafood.
Eating healthy plays an important role in not only in watching your weight, but can only help with cholesterol, blood pressure and an overall healthy lifestyle! This can be a first start to prevention.
Here are more tips to help you shop smarter:
Plan Out Your Menu: Go through and plan what you are going to have each night of the week. This is your “menu”. You can do this for breakfast, lunch, and dinners; this way, you have planned out all three meals. Try for a 5 or 7-day menu plan. Write down each meal you are going to prepare and serve. Browse cookbooks or online recipes for inspiration. I have many ideas on my website here.
List Ingredients: Under each meal, list all ingredients and how much of each ingredient for every meal. You can leave out the things you already have in the kitchen (for example, if you already have salt and pepper, you won’t need that at the grocery store).
List All Misc. Grocery Needs: You already have more than half your grocery list done! Now that you have a menu and those items on your list, write out everything else you need on your list. This can be things like milk, coffee, eggs, etc.
Organize List: Now, if you are anything like me, I like to organize my grocery list into sections: dairy, vegetables, toiletries, etc. This way, it is easier to find in the store. Plus, the more times you spend on your list, the less likely you are to need to look at it while in the store.
**Don’t forget to write down your menu and links or page number and cookbook where you found recipes, so you remember what you are cooking for the week!
Now you have an organized list, a menu plan for the week and you are ready to go to the grocery store. I always have a healthy snack before I go to on my shopping trip, so I don’t make impulse buys. Remember, you’ve already done the hard part; you’ve made the healthy food choices, written them down and now you just need to follow through on those good choices in-store!
Eating Right on a Budget:
You can add to your arsenal of tips with even more budget-friendly tips from eatright.org:
Decide How Much to Make: Making a large batch by doubling a recipe will save time in the kitchen later on. Extra portions can be used for lunches or meals later in the week or freeze leftovers in individual containers for future use. Plus, foods purchased in bulk are almost always cheaper.
Determine Where to Shop: Check the local newspaper, online and at the store for sales and coupons, especially when it comes to more expensive ingredients, such as meat and seafood. While at the store, compare prices of different brands and different sizes of the same brand to see which has a lower unit price. The unit price is usually located on the shelf directly below the product.
Shop for Foods That are In Season: Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be a lot less expensive. Your local farmer’s market is also a great source of seasonal produce. Just remember that some fresh fruits and vegetables don’t last long. Buy small amounts at a time to avoid having to throw away spoiled produce.
Focus on Nutritious, Low-Cost Foods: Certain foods tend to be less expensive, so you can make the most of your food dollars by finding recipes that use the following ingredients: beans, peas, and lentils; sweet or white potatoes; eggs; peanut butter; canned salmon, tuna or crabmeat; grains such as oats, brown rice, barley or quinoa; and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.
Make Your Own Healthy Snacks: Convenience costs money, so many snacks, even healthy ones, usually cost more when sold individually. Make your own snacks by purchasing large tubs of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing them into one- cup containers. For trail mix, combine nuts, dried fruit and whole grain pretzels or cereal; store small portions in airtight containers. Air-popped popcorn and whole fresh fruits in season also tend to cost less compared to pre-packaged items.
Here are some recipes from my website to help you this month make healthier food choices and Go Further with Food:
Grilled cheese is a comfort food favorite, but you might know that this fried-in-butter sandwich is usually very high in fat. That’s why I decided to make it into a healthy version while keeping all the melty, gooey goodness. Fresh organic ingredients take it from ho-hum to haute. This is also an easy go-to with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen, which makes it budget-friendly recipe for lunch or dinner!
Guiltless Grilled Cheese with Roma Tomatoes and Fresh Organic Oregano
- 2 Slices large whole wheat bread
- 1 1/2 Slices light Swiss cheese
- 1 1/2 Slices fat-free Cheddar cheese
- 1 Small organic Roma tomato, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh organic oregano, finely chopped
- olive oil spray
This recipe is great for leftovers, getting the most out of your turkey. You can substitute turkey for any leftover meat that you have, but I find that turkey works best. Great for lunches or dinner, your whole family is going to love these spicy Chimichangas!
- 1 cup leftover turkey (finely chopped)
- 1 packet low sodium Taco seasoning mix (any brand)
- 2/3 cups water
- pinch salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup prepared fresh salsa
- 2/3 cups fat-free refried black beans with jalapenos
- 2 tablespoons diced green chilies (canned)
- 2 Large whole wheat tortillas
- 1/4 cup non-fat sour cream
You can also check out my Crispy-Chewy Chicken Tacos and use leftover chicken in the recipe for another way to repurpose leftovers.
So excited for you to Go Further with Food this month, starting by planning well thought-out meals for you and your family! It’s a perfect time to start making changes in your nutrition that will make big differences in your long-term health!