Health Matters by Dr.Paul: Eating Healthy on a Budget

We all know the importance of proper nutrition to our health. However many people believe that eating healthy is expensive or unaffordable. The reality is that healthy foods do not have to cost a lot of money. 

Planning

Planning for your meals is a good way to start! You can use  the Canada Food Guide or equivalent in your country, as a helpful resource. Before you go shopping, plan your meals and make lists. An easy way to do this is to put your week’s meals, snacks and drinks, on a sample weekly meal planner. Once that is done, write everything you will need for all the recipes on paper. Check your supplies and remove from the list ingredients you already have. The remaining items become your shopping list. Keep blank sample shopping lists on hand on the refrigerator to write food items that are running low through the week. Here are some other tips to help you plan your meals and grocery lists:

  • Check supplies at home to see what needs to be used up.
  • If you have a newspaper or grocery store flyer, check for items that are on special.
  • Plan the meat or meat alternatives for your main meals first.
  • Add foods from the other food groups to complete the main meal.
  • Plan breakfast and other meals next.
  • Make a list of all your beef recipes, another list of all chicken recipes, fish recipes, pasta dishes, legumes, etc. It will be easier to pick and choose in order to make your menu.
  • Remember that snacks should be nutritious; low in fat, sugar and salt.
  • Plan treats such as birthdays, or an occasional “take-out” or restaurant meal if budget permits. If you plan for it, you will stay within your budget.

Tips for Grocery Shopping

It is helpful to go grocery shopping when:

  • You have time to look at the prices;
  • It’s not too crowded
  • You are not hungry
  • And you are not tired.

Here are some other helpful hints for frugal grocery shopping:

  • Try to shop only once a week. Extra trips to the store usually mean you will spend more money.
  • Try to shop alone; you may buy “extras” if you take your children with you.
  • Buy the foods on your shopping list first. If you have money left, use it to  stock up on non-perishable sale items that you can use later (if you have access to proper storage space).
  • Look for no-name brands and store brands. They usually cost less, although it might be worth comparing with other brand names that are on special. Ask for a “raincheck” if the food that is supposed to be on special is sold out.
  • Check the price charged on the cash register; mistakes sometimes occur.
  • And finally, do not buy cans that are damaged or dented.

Health Matters Index Page