It is important to stay healthy whether it’s a good economy, or a bad economy. Our health comes first – always. The first and foremost way we can stay healthy is by nourishing our bodies with nutrients in healthy foods. Ironically, I find it easier to eat healthy and at the same time save money in this bad economy right now, than when our economy was much better. When the economy was better I bought more of the packaged cookies, cakes, etc. because I could afford to buy junk food too and you also notice that it’s those foods that usually have great sale prices. In the long run, they are unhealthy for us and we binge on more at once than if we ate some substantial, healthy food when we feel hungry. I find that by making a big main dish over each weekend (every other if it lasts longer) my money goes further and I eat healthier. For example, one of the big main dishes I like to make is zucchini pie. I choose to make this main dish when zucchini is very reasonably priced. It can also be made with any vegetable that’s on sale like broccoli, or cauliflower. One of the other main ingredients is Bisquick so I use the low fat kind to eat healthier and along with the vegetable this is a very healthy dish. You can even double up on the recipe for yourself, or if you have others in your family. The investment in the box of Bisquick will last for many other recipes along the way, too. Another big main dish I like to make is baked eggplant. Again, I’m eating a vegetable and I’m not frying any food, which is a very healthy way to eat and breadcrumbs also go a long way.
I love to shop. Browsing through the food store ads each week shows me which store has the best price for items I’m interested in and I base the main dish I am going to make on what’s on sale that week. If different stores are not too far from your home it pays to go to several stores to buy what’s on sale in each store, as long as you shop with a list and don’t impulse shop in each and every store. I am also an avid user of coupons, which come in the mail and in Sunday’s newspaper. It is very time consuming but it sure does pay off to match sale prices with coupons you have for those items. Many stores offer double and sometimes triple coupon values and often you can get a product for free, or close to it. Recently in a trip to Walgreens, based on the money I saved on their sale prices and the coupons I used, the checkout lady said to me, “You saved $74.00.” That was in one shopping trip. Of course I have to make sure I don’t buy an item just because I have a coupon for it. It’s important to only buy what we need. If we save money with sales and coupons for the non-food items we need, it leaves us more money to spend on healthy foods. Unfortunately the foods that are good for us are expensive when they aren’t on sale. Some stores have cheaper regular prices than other stores. As we shop more, we learn which are the cheaper stores vs. the more expensive ones. I always find Walmart to have the best prices overall, for items that other stores don’t have on sale that week.
When I food shop I also look at an item’s shelf price broken down into units. Usually bigger sizes end up being cheaper per unit than the smaller boxes, packages, etc. When a healthy product is on sale, like tuna in water I always buy a large quantity, so I will have them for awhile and overall I’m saving money. With packaged fresh chicken pieces the family size packages end up being cheaper than the smaller packages. When you first take the package home from the food store you can separate the pieces into serving sizes and freeze them individually in plastic freezer bags for later use. With packages of chop meat that are lowest in fat I make hamburger patties out of a large package and freeze them individually. They are then so easy to get to and to use as needed. When I am out, I rather come home and eat one of these healthy low fat hamburgers, than go through a fast food drive-thru. Not only is it healthier to eat at home, but it’s also a lot cheaper.
In a bad economy I rather spend my money on healthy foods, than unhealthy foods. Maybe a bad economy isn’t so bad in the long run, if it forces us to keep away from buying the unnecessary junk foods and buy more of the healthier foods – the foods we absolutely need to stay well.