9 Tips for Eating Right Even When Money is Tight

grocery budget

Follow these tips to help stretch your grocery budget (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

For many families, the food budget is one of the few areas that can be considered “discretionary spending,” meaning that the amount isn’t dictated by someone else.  Unfortunately, this often means that when extra money is needed to cover an unexpected expense that money comes out of the amount set aside for food.  But having a tight food budget doesn’t mean you can’t eat right.  Here are great ways to ensure your family is getting the healthy food they need even if you have to stretch your family’s food dollar a little further.

  1. Whole Food is Your Friend

When you buy whole foods you are giving up convenience to get a lower cost but if money matters, this is a great way to get more for less.  Shop the outer ring of the supermarket and stick to things that don’t come in boxes.

  1. Shop the Farmer’s Market

You can often find fresh, delicious locally grown Arizona fruit, vegetables, meats, and dairy products in the farmer’s market.  And, even if the price is the same or even a little higher, fresh produce will last longer which means you are more likely to use it before it goes bad.

  1. Shop in Season

You will always pay less for produce that is in season than you will for things that had to be shipped from somewhere else in the world.  Shopping in season means fresh food at the best price.

  1. Buy Frozen Fruits and Veggies

If you can’t find what you need at the Farmer’s Market or from a local source, make use of the fruits and veggies from the frozen food isle.  They will cost less and you don’t have to worry about them going bad.

  1. Use the Unit Price

Whenever you buy something that is on sale, use the unit price to make sure it is really a deal.  Because things are packaged differently, things that seem like a good buy may not actually be cheaper than a comparable product.

  1. Only Buy What You Need

This means using a list, eating before you shop, and going it alone.  When you don’t plan out your food purchases, you spend significantly more money than if you planned ahead.  Shopping with a spouse or a child will also increase the amount you spend.

  1. Make Your Own Meals

This is another example of choosing cost consciousness over convenience.  Making meals at home from whole foods is better for your family and better for your budget.

  1. Shop Around

You might be surprised to know that the price of everyday items can vary significantly from store to store.  Checking the prices of commonly purchased items at a couple different locations will give you a good idea of which store has the best prices overall.  Just make sure you keep using the unit price trick above to ensure you are comparing apples to apples.

  1. Buy in Bulk

This can be a double edge sword but if you are careful, buying in bulk can save you a lot of money.  Just make sure you are only buying those things that make sense to buy in bulk.

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