Grocery stores are an unavoidable part of life. If eating healthier and saving money are on your agenda for the new year, here are some tips to help. Consider these things before you head to the store or place your next online order.
Plan ahead. Don't just shop for the next 24 hours, but try to think ahead for the week. Limiting your trips to once per week will help save money. Planning will help you use leftovers or common ingredients to avoid waste. Planning also helps you look over your meal plans a week at a time to look for variety, and ensuring the regular inclusion of plenty of colorful vegetables, meatless meals and fish.
Make a list. Prepare a list after deciding what you'd like to make and evaluating what you already have on hand, and what you will need. Divide your list into sections of the store, so you don't miss anything and you don't waste precious time.
Don't shop hungry. If you place your shopping order online, this is likely not an issue. If you walk in a grocery store hungry, there's a likely chance you will walk out of the store with lots of impulsive, unhealthy choices.
Look for sale items, especially meats. Protein can be the most expensive part of your food budget. Try to use family packs that will have more value, and get creative with the leftovers. Also, when buying fresh produce, stick to what is in season. Everyone needs to include more fruits and vegetables daily, but it doesn't need to break your bank to do so. Frozen and canned produce can help when fresh is too pricey for your budget.
Shop the perimeter of the store. The healthiest items are typically those around the outside edges — produce, fresh meat, dairy. The bulk of your cart should contain foods from these areas.
The following is one of my favorite go-to meals for breakfast or any time of day. Eggs are a great inexpensive protein source, and when paired with the remaining ingredients and baked ahead, can be portioned out into individual servings for quick meals. It's also a carb conscious meal. Any vegetable (I use raw or leftover cooked vegetables) or any type of cheese can be used to suit your taste.
Emily Aughtman is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who has worked at SSM Health-St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City for more than 15 years.