Monday, September 22, 2008

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Coupons are an interesting animal. On one hand, they are a great tool for saving money at the grocery store. But on the other hand, they are tools used my manufacturers to induce you into trying their latest packaged goods. Too often, these packaged goods are highly processed and far from being healthy. In fact, there have been many times my wife and I have decided not to use coupons that would have gotten items like free pizza rolls, just because we didn't want to eat that kind of food.

But thankfully, there are still ways you can save money with your grocery coupons, while managing to eat healthily.

1. Take advantage of sales, even without coupons - While it is true, you rarely see a coupon for fruit, berries, fresh veggies, or meat, deals can still be found plentifully. Remember to put your freezer to use when you spot "Buy One Get One Free" deals on meat, berries, and freezable fruit.

2. Look for coupons and other incentives on frozen veggies - While fresh vegetables may rarely be targeted by coupons, frozen vegetables are featured quite regularly. Just last week, a sale combined with a coupon on frozen Green Giant veggies, got us 20 boxes at only $0.30 per box. Not bad for healthy frozen vegetables.

3. Shop at farmer's markets - This is my favorite way to find fresh, local fruits and vegetables. You can buy just a few, or buy entire cases of vegetables you love and trade with others. (Trading 1/2 and 1/4 cases is a constant practice at my local farmer's market.)

4. Use coupons for household items - Saving money on these items likes cleaners, paper towels, toothpaste and others gives you some flexibility on your other purchases while still coming in under budget. During the last "Triple Coupons" weekend here in Raleigh, I scored 5 different brand name cleaners (Windex, 409, Fantastik, etc) for about $.25 each. All of these were on sale and had $.50 or $.75 coupons which were tripled.

In the end, the key with eating healthy on a budget is the similar to finding deals on many other things. Watch for sales (especially if you can combine with coupons) and make smart purchases. Remember to not buy more than you can eat (or freeze), and save money in other places to allow yourself a little extra money for healthy food. Remember, "You are what you eat!"