Tricks for Eating Better and Spending Less This Year

Kyle Brice
Greater Nevada Credit Union

The new year has begun and it’s time to put our best intentions to the test. Sticking to your resolution is tough, only eight percent of people actually achieve their resolutions, so if you’ve failed in the past, you’re in good company. In an effort to help you (and me) achieve your (and my) resolutions, I looked for ways to combine two major resolutions; saving more money and being healthier. What I found—ten ways to save money by eating healthier. You’re welcome. 

Get Healthy Without Going Broke: Helping Achieve Your Resolution
  1. Plan Ahead. If you’re looking to save money and eat healthier the two easiest things you can do are 1) figure out your meal plan for the week and, 2) use this to make a grocery list. This will help you make healthier meal choices, not go out to eat, and stop buying food you won’t use. According to Natural Resource Defense Council Americans throw away about 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy. For a family of four, that’s about $1,365 to $2,275 of food annually.
  2. Eat smarter. We’ve all seen portion sizes get bigger. One of the easiest ways you can eat healthier and cut costs is by simply eating less. It makes sense; the less you eat the less you spend on food. Note: I’m not saying to starve yourself, just maybe skip seconds, and thirds.
  3. Use your freezer. Since you’re eating less now (nod head), there will probably be more leftovers. Why not throw them in the freezer for those nights you really don’t feel like cooking. Also, if you get a good deal buying food in bulk, portion it out and freeze it. Now you can skip the grocery store and just go straight to the kitchen. You'll also cut down on food waste.
  4. Think Frozen, Canned, or Dried. Speaking of things you can keep in your kitchen without going bad; try using frozen, canned, or dried foods. They are usually less expensive, and the same product. Sometimes produce can even be more healthy frozen. According to this article by ABC News, frozen produce is allowed to fully ripen, and actually locks in the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  5. Brown-Bag it. Did you know you can save around $31,200 over ten years just by bringing lunch to work instead of going out? If you bring those leftovers we talked about earlier you’ll spend about $3 a day, which is a lot better than spending $10-$15 to have someone ask if you want fries with that (which you don’t, right?)
  6. Make it yourself. Thanks to Pinterest everyone can be a chef now. Which means you can make food without added sugar, trans fats , preservatives, or red dye number nine.
  7. Drink more water, but stop buying it in bottles. Water is probably the cheapest and healthiest beverage option, and chances are you’re already paying for it. Studies show that about 25% of bottled water is just tap water. Buy a filter to get rid of some of those unhealthy chemicals in tap water. If you need your water mobile there are tons of low-cost reusable water bottles that will end up saving you money.
  8. Less meat, more vegetables. Vegetables, beans and soy products cost less than meat, so cutting back on the meat in your diet can ease the pressure on your wallet. No joke an Arizona jail switched to vegetarian just to save money. Of course there are arguments for health benefits of meat and vegetarian food alike, but there’s no doubt buying meat less often will help pinch pennies.
  9. Don’t shop hungry. This tip comes straight from Martha (and every mom we know). We’ve all done it, and it always end up the same way... a plate full of microwave pot stickers and pizza bites covered in salsa and nacho cheese sauce. Maybe that last bit is just me, but nonetheless, shopping on a full stomach helps curb impulse buying.
  10. Circle the store. A good rule of thumb for getting the most out of your shopping trip is to stick to the outer edges of the store for produce, eggs, milk, and meat. Avoid processed and packaged foods in the middle aisles.

This list covers some pretty basic life hacks, which could turn into some major lifestyle changes, depending on how far you run with them. Hopefully you saw something which will help you stick to those resolutions. Best of luck in 2014!