Smart ways to save money and eat well

(NC) Sometimes healthy eating gets a bad rap for being expensive. But that doesn’t have to be the case. By following a few simple tips, you and your family can eat well and save money.

Try setting a budget for groceries, either for each week or for every month. Then track your spending and see where you can make some tweaks.

Planning your meals around foods that are on sale is another smart way to shave a few dollars off your grocery bill. Flip through flyers, collect coupons and browse websites to take advantage of price savings.

Stocking up on sale items that your family frequently uses is also a good idea. This is especially true for canned foods and dry staples like pasta, brown rice, dried peas, beans and lentils.

Shop at discount grocery stores for extra savings. Making and sticking to your grocery list is one of the best ways to prevent impulse buys. Buying what your family will actually eat saves money and will also help cut down on food waste.

Comparing prices is a smart money-saving strategy. Some stores will even match a competitor’s lower price. Go for lower-cost brands of oatmeal, peanut butter, yogurt and canned fish. Sometimes the lower-priced brands are on higher or lower shelves.

Buying foods in bulk or larger containers rather than single-serve portions will reduce your grocery bill. For example, a large tub of yogurt is cheaper than individual cups. The same goes for unseasoned meat compared to pre-seasoned meat. Other price-chopping tips include buying foods that are close to their best-before date. The same applies for bruised vegetables and fruit that may look odd but are perfectly tasty and nutritious.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are generally cheaper when they’re in season. In the off season, frozen fruits and vegetables can be less expensive and just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. Also, eating plant-based proteins more often will help keep costs in check. These include chickpeas, dried beans, peas and lentils. Enjoy them on their own or add them to meat-based dishes to make your meal go further.

Limit highly processed foods, such as ready-to-heat packaged meals, cookies, processed meats, and sweetened breakfast cereals. These foods add to your grocery bill and tend to be higher in sodium, sugars and saturated fat.

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