Healthy eating does not have to cost a fortune. By planning ahead, you can eat delicious, healthy foods at a reasonable cost. Throughout this session, we will provide information on ways to cut your food budget without cutting out the vital nutrients your body requires to maintain good health and physical energy.
To educate students on how to budget food cost while choosing healthy, delicious foods.
At the end of this session, participants will have a better understanding of:
- How to plan well balanced meals at affordable prices.
- What to look for when grocery shopping to get the most for their dollar.
- The weekly cost of eating nutritiously in London.
|| 15 Minutes
Suggested Background Reading for Presenters
- Everybody's Food Budget Book, Middlesex-London Health Unit (Enclosed)
- The Price of Eating Well in London: A User's Guide, Middlesex-London Health Unit, 1997. (Enclosed)
- Collective Kitchens, Middlesex-London Health Unit. (Enclosed)
- PENS: Healthy Eating on a Shoestring Budget
- Money Saving Tips
- Suggested Handouts
- Endless Variety of Skillet Casseroles, Ottawa-Carleton Health Department, Middlesex-London Health Unit, November 1995.
- The Price of Eating Well in London, Middlesex-London Health Unit, City of London Department of Community Services, 1997.
- Nutrition Matters, Healthy Eating is in Store for You, Middlesex-London Health Unit, March 1991.
- Choices, Eating Value for Your Dollar, Middlesex-London Health Unit, September 1991.
Money Saving Tips
Plan meals for the coming week and then create a grocery list. This will prevent having to make last minute menu changes and extra shopping trips which cost time, gas and money. Planning ahead also allows you to check for specials in weekly fliers to get the most for your dollar.
Buy Food in Bulk.
Buying in large quantities could save packaging and labour costs and therefore often save you money. Examples of some items you may want to purchase in bulk include: pasta, rice, flour, cereals, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), seasonings, stock/soup bases, peanut butter, condiments, raisins and snack foods. Buying in bulk has become very popular and most major shopping malls now have a bulk store.
Compare Food Prices.
In order to recognize a bargain, know the price you pay for frequently purchased food items.
- Stoop and snoop while you shop. Often the best values are above or below eye level.
- Try "store" or "no name" brands. If you check the ingredient listing you'll often find that the only difference is the price.
- Check weekly fliers for sale items and stock up (if you have extra money and the storage space) on non-perishables or items which can be frozen. Keep in mind that coupons and specials still require comparison shopping and could save you money only if they are items you want and will use. Plan to shop at the store that offers you the best deals for most of the foods you need.
- Beware of "featured" items, which are often at the end of the aisle. They are not always offered at a lower price.
- Don't be fooled by "natural" or "wholesome" labels. These are usually intended to make the item appear to be a healthier choice, but reading the ingredient listing will tell you how similar they are to other products.
Choose fresh fruits and vegetables in season. It is often more economical to choose frozen or canned alternatives than fresh out-of- season food items.
When it comes to meat, buy only what you need.
Many people buy too much meat. An adult would need two small servings a day of meat, fish or poultry. A serving is about the size of a deck of cards (3 ounces or 90 grams).
- Marinate less expensive cuts of meat and cook by a moist heat method at a low temperature to get it nice and tender.
- Check the price per kg of whole chicken versus cut up pieces and then make your choice. In general, simple meat cutting jobs or removal of skin can be very costly.
- Buy larger (family) packages of meat and re-portion according to your family's needs. Buying larger quantities is often less expensive.
- Although some fresh fish could be very expensive, check your grocer's freezer for frozen unbreaded fish fillets. Most are individually frozen, nutritious and very convenient.
Try using plant proteins.
Good sources of high quality protein include legumes such as dried peas, beans and lentils. These items are usually far less expensive than meat, lower in fat and have significantly higher fibre content. The popularity of legumes has recently soared and there are now many excellent bean cookbooks on the market. Remember, when cooking dried beans, soak them overnight in water and rinse well before cooking. Canned legumes are nutritionally comparable but somewhat more expensive. Remember also to rinse well canned legumes before using.
Choose "convenience" foods carefully.
It is important to weigh the cost of time and effort spent preparing food from scratch against the cost, food value and taste of convenience foods. It always costs money to have someone do your food preparation for you. For example:
- Orange juice made from concentrate versus frozen orange juice concentrate. Do you really need someone to add the water for you?
- Shredded cheese versus a whole brick of cheese. You'll be amazed at the price difference.
- Most packaged dried soups, meal helpers, casserole and noodle mixes are convenient but costly. Processed foods are usually more expensive.
- Pasta sauces versus stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce.
- Food items which are individually portioned (i.e., pudding, yogurt, fruit cocktails, juices) are usually more costly than the non-preportioned items. Foods with the least amount of packaging often cost the least.
Brown-bagging your lunch requires a little more effort. But if you choose the right contents, it is both cheaper and healthier. Go for variety by bringing your own salad. Use whole wheat pita, wraps or rolls as a change from regular sandwich bread and include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Granola bars, cereal bars, muffins, bread sticks, crackers and cheese, yogurt, pudding are just a few other suggestions that can be part of your lunch or a between-class snack.
If you are considering regular brown-bagging, it is a good idea to invest in a thermal lined lunch bag. A small ice pack placed at the bottom of the bag (or a frozen juice box which will thaw by lunch time) will keep your lunch cool and fresh for hours and you will not have to think twice about packing leftovers from the previous day's meals. Using frozen bread to make your sandwich also helps to keep both the sandwich filling and the contents of your lunch at a safe temperature.
[Distribute the "Weekly Cost of the Nutritious Food Basket in London" and review what the Nutritious Food Basket pertains to (refer to the "Price of Eating Well in London: A User's Guide") and the steps to determine the cost of eating a nutritious diet for one household. Exercise: Let participants cost their own weekly food and compare it to the nutritious food basket. This will vary according to the number of members in their household.]
Money Saving Tips- 2
- Plan ahead.
- Buy in bulk.
- Compare prices.
- Buy only the required amounts of meat.
- Try plant protein.
- Choose convenience foods carefully.
- Brown-bag it.