How to Eat Well on a Budget

grocery shopping list and money

Healthy eating need not cost more. There are lots of ways for you to enjoy the benefits of healthy eating on a budget. Try these money saving tips to plan nutritious meals and snacks for you and your family:

Plan ahead.

Plan your meals for the week and make a grocery list based on your plan. Make a habit of buying just what's on your list. Having a plan and a list can keep you from buying pricier, less nutritious foods on impulse. Remember to check for grocery store specials when making your meal plans and grocery lists.

Consider no-name brands.

No-name brands are often exactly the same product as the brand names, but for less money. Compare the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient lists, and don't pay more for a name or branded packaging. Bulk food items are usually a good deal too.

Cut down on convenience foods.

It doesn't take much time to shred your own cheese, cut your own vegetables or fruit or add water to frozen juice concentrate but it will likely save you money.

Make your own.

Try not to rely on too many pre-prepared packaged foods or restaurant meals which generally cost more. Taking the extra time to prepare your own food with nutritious ingredients can save you money and will be better for you!

Serve meatless meals.

Prepare meals with nutritious, fibre-rich meat alternatives such as dried beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds often. Eggs, peanut butter and tofu are also good low cost meat alternative options. Some examples of meatless meals are bean burritos with salad, rice and bean casseroles with vegetables, vegetable and cheese omelets with whole grain toast and tofu vegetable stirfry on rice noodles.

Try the following cost-saving tips to help you eat well with Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide.

Cost saving tips for the four food groups in Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide

Food group Cost-saving tip
Vegetables and Fruit

Locally grown produce that's in season usually costs less since it does not have to be transported long distances or stored like imported produce. We have a large variety of local produce right here in Ontario.

Canned or frozen vegetables and fruit are just as nutritious as fresh produce.

Frozen vegetables and fruit that are packaged in bags usually cost less than those in boxes.

Look for specials on canned produce.

Grain Products

Grain products can often be purchased in bulk. Experiment with different varieties like bulghur, oats, brown rice and barley.

Unsweetened cereals tend to cost less than presweetened cereals and allow you to control how much sugar you add. Better yet, skip the sugar and add fruit instead.

Hot cereals such as oatmeal or cream of wheat are a great choice, especially on a cold day. They're inexpensive and rich in nutrients and fibre.

Stock up on pasta when it's on special.

Milk and Alternatives

Try "no name" or store brand varieties.

Buy milk in bags rather than cartons.

Buy yogurt in large tubs.

Buy cheese in larger blocks, and slice or grate it yourself.

Use skim milk powder or evaporated milk reconstituted in recipes that call for milk.

Meat and Alternatives

Remember that 100 g of raw meat, poultry or fish will yield a 75 g Food Guide Serving when cooked.

Try less expensive alternative protein sources such as dried beans, peas and lentils, eggs and peanut butter.

A whole chicken costs less than the pieces.

Whole grain bread crumbs, oatmeal, rice or pasta can help 'stretch' ground meat.

Last Update – April 26, 2018

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