Eating smart pays off with less waste and waist

I am one of those tomato sniffers you see at the grocery store. I’ll also ask for a price match. I rarely go through the aisles in the middle of the store because that’s where the processed foods are. And, if I cut into a squash and the insides are rotten, I’m that annoying person who will return it, mould and all. I do these things because I care about my wallet and my waistline, equally.

Like many brides-to-be, I’ve become even more focused on healthy eating. And, I still manage to stick within my budget. Here are four ways to keep your healthy foods budget in check.

Fish, fruit, nuts and vegetables are just four food groups that will help you avoid waste and waist.


Make whole foods a cornerstone of every meal

Healthy eating starts with whole foods; ones that aren’t processed or refined — just straight-up food. Fruits and veggies, both fresh and frozen; grains, nuts, and seeds; legumes (such as chickpeas and lentils); and depending on your beliefs about meat and dairy, it may or may not include unprocessed meats such as wild salmon and hormone-free chicken, milk and eggs.

Nutrition experts, such as those from Harvard, have elevated certain whole foods to “superfood” status because they can power pack your meals with heightened nutrition. Broccoli, blueberries, spinach, walnuts, quinoa, unsweetened Greek yogurt, radishes, beans, and tomatoes have all made that list.

None of these whole foods are expensive. In fact, most are less than the cost of processed or prepared foods. But, you’ll need to learn how to cook with these foods, so find a few recipe sites that specialize in whole foods and get chopping.

Meal plan to avoid food waste

In mid-2018, the National Zero Waste Council reported that Canada is one of the most wasteful of all of the developed countries in the world. We throw out $1,100 of food, which equals 140 kg, per household every year. From a financial perspective, that’s the cost of a mini vacation, or good part of a mortgage payment, maybe a month of child care, this year’s RRSP contribution, or possible two months’ worth of groceries for a small household.

Admittedly, every few months I have to throw something out. And I get mad at myself because food waste, just like most other things we waste here in Canada, is 100 per cent preventable. We all just need to sit down at the beginning of the week and make a grocery list for the meals we plan to make, just like some of our parents used to do.

Try a day or two every week without meat

Meats tend to be the most expensive thing on our grocery lists. Why not plan vegetarian meals for a day? There are thousands of delicious and nutritious recipes that cost less than $10 to make; and you’ll probably have leftovers, which means you can pack them for your lunch the next day.

Buy what’s in season

If you try to buy asparagus in the dead of winter, you’ll pay through the nose. But, if you buy it in May, there’s so much supply, the price comes down. Over the years, I’ve figured out what’s in season at various times of year. This offers great food variety, and my costs are two to three times less for that same food if I try to buy it off-season. Check your local food blogs to find out what’s in season near you.

If you want to blow the doors off your food budget, you can; just like when you’re buying a car or a new jacket. But healthy eating does not require you to do so. And the proof in the pudding is that I’ve watched some of my clients trim up physically and reduce their grocery expenses by 30 and 40 per cent, simply by following these principles.

Published by Star Media January 21, 2019.