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Whole Foods Don’t Have to Cost Your Whole Paycheck

We all want to save money, and most of us would like to incorporate fresh, whole foods into our diet. If you need to save money in your monthly budget, food costs are a good place to start. Although ‘convenient’ isn’t a word you often hear to describe whole food cooking, a little planning and some practice will make it work.    

Cook at Home

Simply cooking with whole foods at home will save a tremendous amount of money over eating out. You do have whole food options in some restaurants, but paying someone else to prepare healthy meals will drastically increase your food bill. You will always eat better and save money by preparing most of your food at home. wholefoodsimage

Plan your Menu & Shop from a List

Before you grocery shop, make a menu. Create your shopping list off of your menu, not just what you think you might need. Look ahead at your weekly schedule and plan for any meals that you plan to create in your own kitchen. Remember to shop only from your list – the grocery store is no place to improvise.

Allow for Prep Time

Eating whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and nuts as your everyday meal and snack options sounds expensive – and it can be. If you choose ‘convenience’ whole foods, buying pre-packaged or single serving items, it’s possible your food costs will skyrocket. Instead, set aside time every week to plan and prep your own meals and snacks. Having healthy snacks and meals planned, prepared and ready to cook and eat will help you save money over impulse and convenience buys – and fresh, whole foods simply make you feel better.

Enhance your Cooking Skills

If you rarely cook for yourself, but you want to eat better and save money on food, gradually work the changes into your routine. Try not to load your fridge and pantry with fresh ingredients for a week’s worth of meals, unless you have a clear plan for preparing them. Try adding a whole food meal, or two, per week, increasing this as you become more comfortable with your new cooking skills. As time goes on, experiment with different recipes and soon you’ll have a full repertoire of healthy cook-at-home meals to work with.

Learn to Love Fresh Herbs and Spices

Cooking from a can, even an ingredient like cream of mushroom soup, is easy and can taste good, but heavily processed foods don’t support a healthy eating goal. Add fresh, flavorful herbs and spices to your cooking instead. You’ll learn to love the taste of fresh herbs and potent spices – inspiring you to try new recipes! When buying spices, sample new spices by purchasing smaller containers, and use store brands when possible. Spices can lose their potency as they age, so smaller sizes prevent wasting something that’s not a new favorite. Spices offered by large national brands often include expensive packaging, not necessarily better taste.

Taking time to plan what youeat, when you will eat it and what you need to create your meals will save you a huge amount of money. Prepping and cooking your own meals  each week will allow you to eat fresh, whole foods on a day-to-day basis; much better for you than any convenience food. Each step on this list will help you save money on groceries. Include planning and a bit of effort – you’ll save money while eating much, much better.