We all know the importance of eating healthy. It is especially important to pay attention to nutrition as we age. But, buying nutritious foods can be expensive.
Luckily, there are ways to save money and still eat healthy meals. Are you looking for ways to eat healthy on a budget? Try these money-smart tips for buying nutritious foods.
9 Money-smart Ways to Eat Healthy
Getting the right amount of nutritious foods is important for older adults who want to be active and independent. Healthy choices promote strength, balance, and energy. Plus, they help prevent poor health and improve wellness.
One of the biggest challenges with maintaining a healthy diet is the cost of nutritious foods. While some foods can get expensive, there are ways you can eat healthy meals on a budget.
Be sure you are getting nutritious foods every day by using these smart money tips for eating healthy.
1. Buy Whole Foods
Whole foods are foods that are as close to their natural form as possible while still being fit to eat. They undergo minimal processing, often making them both healthy and less expensive choices.
For example, whole grains like oats and brown rice are less money per serving than most processed cereals. And, canned beans are cheaper than refried ones. Whole foods often come in larger quantities, so you get a little more bang for your buck.
2. Buy In-season Produce
Locally grown, in-season produce is often cheaper. Off-season produce tends to be more expensive because it has to be transported long distances to your store.
In-season fruits and vegetables usually carry the highest amount of nutrients and are packed full of flavor. If you buy too much produce, you can always freeze it or incorporate it into another recipe.
If you are 60 or older and meet income guidelines, you may be eligible for the Ohio Senior Farmers’ Market program. In June, this program provides eligible seniors with $50 in coupons to be used at local participating farmers’ markets. This is a great way to get produce without spending money. Check your Ohio County to see who distributes vouchers for your location in June.
3. Buy Frozen Produce
Buying frozen fruits and vegetables from the freezer section of the store can be very cost effective. You still get all of the nutrients of produce while paying less than you would for fresh items. You can use frozen produce for cooking, making smoothies, and as topping on yogurt.
Frozen produce is available all year round and is sold in a variety of different sized bags. Simply take out the amount you want to use and put the rest back in the freezer. This helps to reduce waste and save money.
4. Plan Your Meals
Meal planning helps you avoid buying too much food that ends up spoiling before you have the chance to eat it. It also helps you steer clear of spontaneous purchases of things you don’t need.
Before you go to the store, look in your fridge and cabinets to take inventory of what you already have. While you are doing this, get rid of anything that is no longer good to eat.
Write down a list of all of the items you need to buy. Plan your list around meals that you are planning to make. You may be able to use some ingredients in several meals.
When you get to the store, be sure to stick to your grocery list. It is easy to get sidetracked, but this can lead to expensive unplanned purchases.
5. Prepare Food at Home
Preparing your food at home is cheaper than eating out. To make cooking at home easier, you might want to prepare all of your meals at the beginning of the week.
Even if you are not confident with your cooking skills, you can make simple things instead of ordering out. For example, you might scramble eggs instead of going out for breakfast.
Some older adults have a hard time preparing meals and a loved one might help them. Family caregivers can sometimes struggle to find a balance between taking care of aging parents, working, and taking care of their family at home.
One solution for older adults who need some help preparing meals is a home-delivered meal service. For example, Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio provides nutritious meals and check-ins to seniors and people with disabilities in Summit, Stark, and Wayne Counties. Home-delivered meals can be a cost-effective way to ensure you have healthy meals every day.
6. Avoid Junk Food
Junk food offers little nutritional value and has a lot of unhealthy ingredients. It can also be very expensive.
Skip the junk food and opt for healthier snacks. When working with a tight budget, choose to spend more money on nutritious foods and spend less on junk food.
7. Try These Less Expensive Foods
Many foods are both inexpensive and healthy. They also taste good! Here are some healthier, less costly options to choose from:
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Cheaper cuts of meats
- Whole grains
These are all tasty, can be prepared in a variety of ways, and offer a lot of nutritional value. You can find many power foods for older adults in these categories.
8. Apply for Senior Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
You may be eligible for food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Funded by the National Council on Aging, SNAP is the nation’s largest federal nutrition program that helps low-income individuals and families by providing supplemental money to help with purchasing groceries.
To be eligible for senior SNAP benefits, you must be 60 or older and meet income guidelines. If you think you are not eligible, you might want to apply anyways.
Only two out of five people who are eligible for SNAP are receiving benefits. That means that a lot of people are not taking advantage of the program. You could be one of them.
Once enrolled in SNAP, your benefits are loaded onto an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. In Ohio, it is called the Ohio Direction Card and it works like a debit card at participating stores. You can use your card to buy eligible food items.
Being a SNAP recipient comes with many perks. You can roll your money over each month. So even if you only receive $15 per month, your benefits add up. You can also earn rewards to use at local farmers’ markets.
Apply for SNAP by calling 844-640-6446 or visit your Department of Job and Family Services’ website. And remember that by enrolling, you are never taking benefits away from someone else.
9. Educate Yourself
There are tons of other ways to eat healthy foods on a budget other than the ones listed here. Be on the lookout for ways to save while eating nutritious meals.
You can subscribe to online publications that give you updates on ways to promote wellness and be money smart. Sign up for VANTAGE’s monthly e-newsletter for updates and more blog posts like this one, too.
Depending on where you live, organizations in your community might host events to help you learn more about eating healthy on a budget. Look for cooking classes, workshops, and social events that will educate you on frugal healthy eating.
VANTAGE has partnered with the Summit County Department of Job and Family Services to provide senior SNAP information over a free light meal. If you live in Summit County, Ohio, be sure to register for a Seniors, Sandwiches & SNAP event.
We are traveling all over Summit County through April 2020 to answer your questions and provide helpful resources. See upcoming events on our website and follow us on Facebook for updates.
Eat Healthy on a Budget
The bottom line – You do not have to drain your bank account to eat healthy. Be smart about your purchases and do not be afraid to ask for advice or assistance with meals.
Remember to plan your meals, make a list, and stick to whole foods. If you have difficulty preparing meals at home, look for a meal delivery service like Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio to help you get nutritious meals at an affordable cost. Simple, money-smart moves can help you stay healthy and active without breaking the bank.
*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.