Eating Healthy on a Budget

Authored by Adrienne Gallant,
Let’s Go! Knox County Coordinator

The holidays are behind us and we are in the middle of winter here in Maine. Many of us just want to hibernate until the cold is gone and eat warm, comforting foods. Some folks make New Year resolutions to eat healthier. This can be particularly difficult to do, especially on a budget. Here are some helpful hints on how to maximize your budget and eat healthy too this winter!

  1. Plan ahead: Take some time on the weekend to plan 3-4 healthy dinners for the coming week. There’s no need to make a meal every day of the week, make some extra that can be eaten on those busy nights—leftovers!
  2. Use what you have: Before going shopping, take an inventory of what you already have in your fridge, pantry and freezer and incorporate that into your meal planning.
  3. Make a list and stick to it!
  4. Look for sales: When you’re planning your menu look at the flyers and plan your menu around the fruits and vegetables that are on sale that week!
  5. Try canned or frozen produce: They keep for a long time and can be less expensive per serving than fresh produce. Look for items that are made with no added sauces or sugar, or that are labeled “low sodium”, “no salt added” or “in 100% juice”.
  6. Shop in season: Buying fruits and vegetables in season usually means your food tastes better and costs less. Check out your local farmers’ markets or farm stands in your community. Check out Let’s Go!’s list of seasonal fruits and veggies in Maine.
  7. Go generic: Try store brands! Store brands on average are cheaper by about 26-28% and the quality is usually the same or better than name brand products!
  8. Buy in bulk: Buy in bulk when foods are on sale. Frozen and canned vegetables and some fresh items (like apples and carrots) will last a long time.
  9. Shop the perimeter: Although you’ve probably heard this one a lot, it’s true! Spend most of your budget on foods found around the outside of the store like fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean protein foods. Limit your shopping in the middle aisles to staples like whole wheat pasta, rice, canned tuna and almond butter or peanut butter.
  10. Compare unit prices: Use the unit price to compare similar products. This will help make sure you are getting the best deal. The unit price is usually found on the sticker on the shelf beneath the item.
  11. Don’t shop hungry!!! People who shop when they’re hungry or stressed tend to buy more food as well as unhealthier food items

Print a copy of this list and post it at home.