Oftentimes I hear people talk about how healthy eating is usually extremely expensive, however, I have found just the opposite to be true. By preparing nutritious, fresh meals at home, hundreds of dollars can be saved per year.
The problem is that no one wants to cook. People convince themselves that it’s cheaper to get fast food, when that’s simply not true. According to a New York Times article, “In general, despite extensive government subsidies, hyper-processed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home. You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed 4-6 people.” On average, the same family of four would spend about $28 at McDonald’s.
One of the secrets to cooking at home — this doesn’t include pre-packaged and processed foods — is to prepare meals in advance. Not only will it help you budget, but it will also help you be more disciplined. I speak from experience when I say that most of us are guilty of eating “bad” foods when we are very hungry. If your meals are already prepped, you will no longer be able to use this excuse.
For advice, I decided to consult with an expert. Personal chef and co-author of A Mixed Girl’s Favorite Recipes, Marlena Attinasi, gave me three tips on what to include on my grocery list, and how to save money:
- Purchase seasonal vegetables: Not sure which vegetables are in season? Read your sales ads instead of tossing them into the recycling bin. Seasonal vegetables are almost always on sale, or at the lowest prices. Farmer’s markets and ethnic grocery stores will often have great prices on produce.
- Beans and potatoes: A 1-pound bag of dry beans costs less than $2 and will yield eight to 12 servings. If you don’t have that many people to feed, then lucky you, they freeze really well. Likewise, a 5-pound bag of potatoes costs no more than a couple bucks. As a bonus, both beans and potatoes are more nutrient-rich compared to other starchy carbohydrates.
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: Many people take the poor chicken thigh for granted. I was guilty of this for years. However, many of the recipes that call for boneless, skinless chicken breasts can easily be substituted with thigh meat. And for stewed recipes (curry, jerk, or Caribbean brown stew chicken for example) the thigh meat is simply better. It won’t dry out, is more flavorful, and about half the price of white meat.
Next week: 3 simple steps for proper meal prep. In the meantime, try keeping track of how much money you can save in just two weeks without fast food!
Marlena can be found on instagram and Twitter: @marlenacooks
A Mixed Girl’s Favorite Recipes by Gloria Govan and Marlena Attinasi is currently available.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Holly Lowe Jones is a media professional, certified fitness and nutrition expert, and personal trainer (ISSA). A member of the National Association for Health and Fitness, Jones is also a seasoned triathlete who competes in her spare time.
For more information, please visit her website www.hollylowejones.com.
Instagram and Twitter: HollyLoweJones