Uncertainties related to the conflict in Ukraine, supply chain issues and others continue to drive up the cost of groceries. But UAB nutrition experts say eating healthy doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.
“It’s hard for anyone to change their grocery shopping habits and eating habits in the blink of an eye, but the price of food forces us all to reconsider how and what we eat,” said Tara Harman, instructor at the UAB Department. Nutritional Sciences. “If you’re on a tight budget, buying in bulk to make fewer trips to the grocery store may seem like an impossible or just plain unreasonable request.”
Harman says making a shopping list ahead of time that balances non-perishable (canned or frozen) and perishable (dairy and fresh) foods, and aims to reuse ingredients for multiple meals can help.
Pro Tip: Rather than buying pre-chopped onions, instant rice, or oatmeal, choose items that aren’t pre-prepared to save money.
“For example, rather than relying on deli cuts to make sandwiches during the day, consider buying less perishable – and also cheaper – foods like canned white meat chicken to make chicken salad. for the sandwiches,” she said. “The jerky chicken salad is the worst, so rather than forgoing the mayonnaise to save money, buy whole milk yogurt instead.”
Harman says the yogurt is versatile and she recommends serving it for breakfast or a snack.
“Still in the spirit of less perishable and less expensive items, you can top it with sliced canned peaches to add a little more flavor and nutrition,” Harman says.
Riley Thornton, UAB’s employee wellness manager, says if you have a recipe that calls for quinoa, consider brown rice if it’s a cheaper grain to buy.
“For a recipe that calls for a particular vegetable, see if you can substitute a more seasonal option that may be less expensive,” Thornton says.
Megan Ferrell Word, clinical dietitian at UAB Weight Loss Medicine, says grabbing things that are on sale or in season is best practice when looking to get the best bang for your buck.
“There’s nothing wrong with buying frozen food either,” she said.
Word adds that having a plan, not to be confused with meal planning, is a simple but important step to saving on your grocery bill.
“Meal planning isn’t sustainable for most people, so buying items from each food group when shopping is a better way to plan your trip to the store,” she said.
Word says a balanced plate generally means that half of your plate should contain non-starchy vegetables and the rest of your plate should contain equal portions of whole grains and protein.
“It’s important to watch your portions,” Word said. “Sometimes it’s not what we eat that counts, but how much. Serving the appropriate amounts at meals can be helpful.
This story originally appeared on the UAB News website.