Part of being victorious is being smart in your food choices in life. When looking for recipes to eat and when choosing foods to purchase always look for the most basic, natural ingredients
When you are looking to prepare a meal for your family, the most nutritious will be the ones with basic ingredients. If a recipe calls for a bunch of prepared, packaged foods, skip it and look for something that requires you to make it from scratch. It is okay to use packaged foods every now and again, but try and make everything from scratch. It may take longer, but it is better for you in the long run. I like to make our favorite dishes, baked goods, and snacks in large quantities and freeze them. That way, I save time by cooking in bulk with the added benefit of healthy foods for my family.
Food buying tips and shopping smarts
Here are some tips to help you when shopping for food:
- Stick to your list. Don’t buy anything unless it is on your list. These impulse buying practices will add up and cost you hundreds and thousands of dollars over the course of a year.
- Skip eating out. It is never cheaper or more nutritious then eating homemade meals at home. Plan your meals and make your lunches at home.
- Always go shopping with a plan. Make a list. If you go without a list, you will be more likely to spend money you didn’t intend on spending. Plus it helps so that you do not forget items that you needed for a particular meal.
- Plan out a weekly or monthly menu. I find it is more cost-effective to shop once per month for our large family. If I can do this and get the majority of our foods, I can usually only have to go once every two weeks for fresh fruit, vegetables, and milk. When you have a plan, it is easier to make out what items you need for the meals. You can easily check your pantry and freezer to see what you need to pick up.
- Do not go when you are hungry. This is such a pitfall for many. You will come home with much processed food. They purposely have yummy smelling foods and lots of fresh looking vegetables out in the salad bar, just waiting for you to pay them for their labor. Skip it, save it by preparing it yourself.
- Have a budget. Don’t just go aimlessly to the store. Know how much you have to spend and mentally keep a tally of how much it cost. Round off the amounts, instead of saying $1.89, I just say $2. It is easier this way.
- Keep a list on your refrigerator of items that you are almost out of. Don’t wait until it is completely empty—have you ever run out of toilet paper? Do it before it is gone.
- Keep some foods on hand for a quick fix night. This might be spaghetti, or a quick frozen meal like chicken patties. Make it something that throws together quickly for when you are tempted to buy out.
- Buy frozen veggies. If you can’t afford fresh buy frozen. They are the next to best thing and better than nothing.
- Cut back on meats. Meat is expensive. Think of replacing a meal or two a week that is meat free like beans and lentils. Many cultures eat like this all of the time.
- Make your own individual snacks. Instead of paying a company to package them, do them yourself. Either buy small baggies or small plastic containers—that you can reuse.
- Plan freezer meals. You can dedicate a few hours to making a big batch of meals and freezing them for later dinners. There are many online resources dedicated to this purpose. It is cost effective too.
- Utilize the Crockpot. Being able to throw a bunch of ingredients together and then letting them cook all day, without any worry, is a good thing to have when it comes to dinner time. Less stress.
- Use coupons, only if you were already planning on purchasing the item. It may take a few moments extra, but it will save you if you are diligent.
- Scan through the store’s flyer looking for specials. If you notice a great deal, stock up on multiple items.
- Try the store brands. Usually they taste exactly the same.
- Use up your fragments. Don’t waste anything that you have. If you have leftover items, get creative and throw them together to make a dish. If I am making spaghetti, I can throw in that leftover salsa, even that little bit of fettuccine sauce. It adds a different splash to your regular meals, but it also utilizes and stretches the meal a bit.
- Skip the junk food, or buy as little as possible. Junk food not only cost a lot of money for zero nutrition, but it makes you and your family fat and will eventually give you health problems. That is NOT a good deal
- If you can help it, do not shop with your children, they are more likely to ask over and over again for you to buy something.
- Aim for whole foods. Look for things in the least processed form—whole grain or wheat instead of white bread, fresh fruit instead of canned or juice, and whole grain cereal or oatmeal instead of processed.
- Pay attention to labels. Look for hydrogenated oils, high amounts of sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, lots of sodium, and cholesterol. Avoid these like the plague. You want to stick with foods with high fiber, good fats, protein, vitamins, and calcium.
- Avoid frozen dinners and prepared entrees. These cost way more and are usually much less nutritious. The sodium content is usually astronomical.
- Drink water. If you normally drink a lot of sugary drinks, avoid them and stick with water. It is much better for you and costs much less.
- If you know your stores layout, plan your shopping list according to the isles. It will help you avoid running back and forth through the aisles.
- Bring your own bags. I have started accumulating cloth grocery bags. They are far sturdier than plastic and way better for the environment. Do an internet search on the Great Pacific garbage patch. This is the result of plastic waste in the middle of the oceans.