Healthy Food on a Budget

Eat smaller portions and save. Eat less, spend less, weigh less. Serve smaller portions at dinner and you may have enough for lunch the next day. Big muffins can be split in half or even fourths. One half cup is a serving size for rice and noodles. Most people eat a cup or two. Portion distortion.

Waste not. Americans throw away roughly 30 million tons of food each year. Before you toss perishable food into your grocery cart, think about exactly how and when you'll use it. Eat leftovers; they’re often tastier the next day. Wrap things well so they stay fresher longer.

Think frozen. With frozen foods, you can use only the amount you need, reseal the bag and reduce waste. Use plain frozen vegetables. Vegetables frozen in butter sauce cost twice as much and have far more calories.

Go generic. Consider buying store brands instead of pricier national brands. Many grocery companies buy national-brand products and simply put their own label on the products.

Eggs-cellent! Eggs are cheap, nutritious and versatile. Use them for scrambled eggs, French toast, egg salad and quiche. Serve breakfast for dinner. Make an economical omelet with eggs and leftover vegetables.  Egg recipes.

Canned beans in the cupboard. A simple dinner of black beans and rice—plus chopped onion, lettuce, salsa and shredded cheese—can make dinner for four for under $5. Or wrap the same ingredients in a tortilla or serve over a bed of baked tortilla chips for a taco salad.

Less meat. A serving of meat is about 3 ounces, about the size of the palm of a woman's hand or a deck of cards. Try using smaller portions of meat and extending the meal with whole grains, beans, and vegetables.

The stand-bys. Peanut butter or tuna sandwiches on whole wheat make fast, filling and inexpensive meals.

Buy produce in season. Check the food section in your newspaper to find the best buys for the week, based on fresh produce in season. Also, shop your local farmers' market for great deals on local produce. (See We Can! in Your Town for other resources.)

Use sales and coupons. Planning meals around what's on sale can lower your grocery bills, especially if you also use coupons (make sure they're for items you would buy anyway).

Brown-bag it. Packing lunch is a great money-saver and an excellent use of leftovers.

Plan ahead. Shopping with specific meals in mind for the week ahead makes it easer to buy in bulk and re-purpose ingredients. For example, turn Sunday night's roast chicken into Monday night's enchiladas. The more you can cook from scratch, the further your dollar can stretch.

Water first. Use water as your main beverage. Watch your food costs and calories drop. American families spend on average $850/year on soft drinks. Water costs a penny a gallon from the tap. Water First.

Eat what you’ve got.
Hold off on going to the grocery store a day or two longer and eat what you’ve got. This reduces waste and could save you 2 or 3 shopping trips a year.

Check out ALDI. ALDI is a discount grocery store that has 14 stores in KY and 1000 stores in 29 states. It is has great deals. Through a select assortment approach, they offer quality items at the lowest possible prices. Here are some prices (February 2009) from the store in Lexington: fresh cauliflower—1.49; lemons--.29; canned diced tomatoes--.49; 2 pounds brown rice—2.18. ALDI Foods.