5 ways to save money and eat healthy

A pinch of meal planning plus a dash of effort can add up to savings for both your waistline and your wallet. Check out our expert tips for saving money while eating healthy.

By Martha Uniacke Breen

2 ways to save money and eat healthy
©iStockphoto.com/kupicoo
There's a pervasive myth that eating healthy is expensive, especially if you're counting calories. You know you should add more fruits, vegetables and healthy grains to your diet, but the cost can add up -- especially if these foods go bad and have to be thrown out before you can finish it all up.

Yet small packages of food tend to cost more and those prepackaged meals really add up in the budget department. Is there a way to save money, eat healthy and still lose weight?

Of course there is, says Toronto-based dietitian Cassandra Reid. "The cheap-food industry has made healthy food look expensive," she observes, "and yes, it is more expensive to eat well than to eat poor or junk food. But that is not to say you should cut back on good food."

In fact, with a little care, you can not only save calories, but actually eat better, while cutting down your overall food bills.

1. Plan meals in advance
Reid says one of the best things you can do now -- to trim both your waste and your waist -- is to get into the habit of planning the week's meals in advance each weekend, and heading to the grocery store with a list. "Get a calendar and put it on your fridge, and in the space for each day, write down whatever you're planning to serve through the week."

2. Cook meals from scratch
Cooking your own meals from scratch is the best way to control portion size (a key part of successful dieting), avoid such diet (and health) busters as excess fat and sodium, and to use the food you buy more efficiently. It's also a great way to take a bird's eye view of your diet planning. For example, say you make a roast chicken on Sunday -- you can have the leftovers for lunch on Monday, and use the bones for a low-calorie, veggie-rich soup on Tuesday.

Or, you can cook a big pot of rice, serve it as a side dish on Thursday and have fried rice on Friday. (Day-old rice tastes better in fried rice, anyway.) The same applies to calorie counting; you can have ice cream, guilt-free, at your friend's birthday party, if you plan to cut back on desserts for the next day or two.

Once you get into the habit, Reid explains, knowing what you're going to have each day solves a number of problems. The most pressing is the dreaded Refrigerator Burnout: that's when, after an exhausting day at work, you head to the fridge, find nothing inspiring, then simply give up and order a pizza or head to the take-out counter.


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