Pennies Saved, Pennies Earned: How to eat healthy, stay wealthy

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Pennies Saved & Pennies Earned

Published on September 21, 2011 with No Comments

Food is probably one of your biggest household expenditures if you were to hold up your budget and see where your paycheck goes at the end of the month.

When you live on your own it is bad enough, but those looking to feed a family are going to have to figure out creative, cost-cutting ways to bring down the butcher’s bill. If you want to get healthy food, the sort that doesn’t have fat and preservatives, you are going to have to be a regular magician to pull that off while spending less money.

Fortunately, the tricks are pretty easy to learn if you are serious about saving your green.

The first trick is to go through your budget and find things that you can cut out.

For instance, while soda might be a necessary source of caffeine and a quick shot of sugar, it is also an expense and it is unhealthy if you dump it into your system day after day.

So cut down on your Coke habit, and when you get thirsty pour yourself a glass of water.

Not store-bought, filtered spring water either. You have a faucet, so drink the water you’ve got.

If it’s really that bad get yourself a filter. With the money you save on this little endeavor, invest in keeping some milk or juice on hand.

If you already buy those, then you have a net savings, and you have juice with Vitamin C and milk with Vitamin D on hand rather than a drink filled with empty calories.

It’s also a good idea to tone down the snacks and desserts as well.

Sweets and snacks aren’t necessities, and if you slip them out of your budget you’ll have a little more wiggle room.

Once you have cut the fat from your budget, you can take your savings and put them towards healthier foods.

There is no reason to pay top dollar when you don’t have to.

To save money, and your health, try and steer clear of canned fruits and vegetables.

While the shelf life might be a little bit higher, they tend to be filled with additional sugars that you don’t want to either eat or pay for.

Frozen vegetables on the other hand are a much better buy, especially if you’re stocking up or buying in bulk from places like Costco, Sam’s Club or the more local Aldi’s supermarket. Also, while you can get a variety of fruits or vegetables year round, you are going to pay less for the green that’s in season according to the law of supply and demand.

Another option, and one that’s only going to be around for a limited time, is to check places other than the grocery store for your food stuffs.

The local farmer’s market in Valparaiso runs from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays at the Central Park Plaza for instance, and it’s harder to get fresher produce than buying it right from the folks that grow it.

There are also local orchards, like the County Line Orchard located at 200 South County Line Road in Hobart, Indiana where you can pick up apples, pumpkins and other fruits of the Fall harvest without going through a middle man.

All of this adds up to a basic truth that comes with eating healthy on a fixed budget; you’re not buying meals, you are buying components.

The less work you put into making something, then generally speaking, the more expensive and unhealthy it’s going to be for you. On the other hand if you put in the effort of shredding your own cheese, mixing your own sauce, dicing your own vegetables and mixing in your own spices (all of which are basic tenets of cooking) then you’re going to save money. When you buy microwave dinners or ready-made meals in a bottle you’re not just paying for the ingredients. You’re also paying for the work the company put into pre-making that meal, and that is work that you can do yourself once you realize how much cheaper it is to cook for yourself and your family.

A few final tips. Read the content for what you’re buying; just because it has the words healthy on it doesn’t mean that what you’re going to eat is worth the cost. Don’t be afraid to buy generic brands, because most times it’s the exact same ingredients.

Cut down on the meat if you’re looking to save money, but make sure you have another source of good protein. And lastly, make sure that if you have leftovers you either eat them, or you put them into the next night’s meal so that nothing you buy is wasted.

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About Neal F. Litherland

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal:

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