June 11, 2016

 Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

When you’re on a tight budget, grocery shopping and meal planning often poses a challenge. And, as we all know, eating healthier foods can be quite expensive.

Echoing that sentiment is Jessica Lynch, who just recently joined the Cooking Light Diet and asked this question in our Facebook group:

Since success in slimming down depends heavily on decisions made at the grocery store, planning is essential. And current members of the Cooking Light Diet came to Jessica’s rescue, offering tips on how to manage her grocery budget when shopping for healthy ingredients. Here are four of the most common ways our CLD members are saving money while still eating delicious, healthy foods:

Utilize Leftovers

"Repeat recipes and make enough for leftovers," said Janet Dufour.

“I have the same side salad all week long any time the dinner calls for a salad,” said Erin Rives Kerr. “I find that easier and cheaper than following the plan exactly.”

“I repeat a few favorite breakfasts and mostly eat smaller portions of dinner leftovers for lunch,” said Sue Given.

“If I have leftovers, like a half jar of spaghetti sauce or something, I use the new search button to find a recipe that allows me to use it up before it’s wasted,” said Susan Pinney.

Organize Your Pantry

“Once you set up your pantry items, the bill becomes much less,” said Joyce Van Huis.

“It’s true that once you buy your pantry items you will use quite a bit, so it’s not bad,” said Monica Banda Ramos. “I also buy a bit at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed. My family likes the meals I’m cooking, too, so that makes it easier.”

“I hate grocery shopping, but once you have all the basic items on hand, it becomes easier,” said Susan Pinney. “I now take advantage of online grocery ordering so no impulse buying. I order what I need and pick it up later.”

“I found I didn’t use as much, so I really don’t go and shop one time for the week anymore—just a few items needed after the third week,” said Jean Isbell Dankberg.

Set a Routine

“For breakfast and lunch, try to select options that incorporate the same foods, such as eggs and yogurt,” said Jane Brown.

“Find similar ingredient recipes, such as pork,” said Kelly Becker. “Make one batch of barbecue, and then use for sliders or tacos. Freeze leftovers, and make your own salad dressings to use spices, oils, and vinegars.”

“I pick two breakfasts, one lunch, three dinners, and two snacks,” said Alice Youngblood. “If all else fails, I buy a ready-made salad from the grocery store. But, I usually get a whole week out of my choices, and my grocery bill is pretty good.”

“I’ve found it best to make the same breakfast, lunch, and snacks for most days of the week,” said Joscelyn Arnold Skandel. “It’s much less stressful, and the shopping is easier!”

Choose On-Sale Items, Cheaper Substitutions, and Seasonal Foods

“I make less expensive substitutions all the time,” said Mary Martini. "I often substitute natural peanut butter for almond butter. I buy fruit and veggies for sides that are in season or on sale rather than what the menu calls for. I often skip fresh herbs unless they’re inexpensive or growing in my yard, like parsley or cilantro. I also make my menu choices for the week around ingredients I have or can get at a reasonable price.”

“Buying some of the things I never had for like oils, vinegars, and spices added up at first, but I shop the sale ads for meats and fresh veggies and use those recipes,” said Lisa Dee Cowgill.

“It’s easier as you go, but being able to choose different menus makes it easier to buy things in bulk, like at Costco, which lessens the price,” said Mary Turnwald. “I also shop my local veggie stands, co-ops, or even farmers’ markets (including flea markets)."

“I’ve been following this for several months, and I now find it less expensive than what I used to spend, particularly if I don’t take the kids shopping with me,” said Sue Given. “I do plan around what’s in season or on sale. I really think that spending a little more on good, healthy food is worth it. I’d much rather spend $3.00 on strawberries than on a bag of chips.”

“I love the new search option on the CLD website,” said Karen Turley Crainich. “I save money when I know what meats and veggies are on sale or that I might have frozen in the house, and I look for recipes that use them.”

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If you’d like to know more about the Cooking Light Diet, visit CookingLightDiet.com, or email us at feedback@cookinglightdiet.com. We’d love to hear from you! Have a great week.

*Members following the Cooking Light Diet, on average, lose more than half a pound per week.

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