Anything you want to save for later—foods that might go bad, school lunches for the week ahead, leftovers—just freeze it. This will help cut back on wasted food and save time during the week. One cool trick to try is to pour little portions of pasta sauce into ice cube trays—plop those babies on top of pasta in a container and it’ll melt by lunch time. Freezing farmers market produce can also preserve it at the peak of its flavor and nutrition.
Vegetables and fruits are the most valuable players in any kitchen. Just think of the tomato—perfect as a salad or sandwich topper, but also an ideal base in some of our favorite comfort foods like soup and spaghetti. In fact, all kinds of veggies can be pureed to create some insanely flavorful sauces, from tart to sweet to savory. Or, blend a smoothie from any melange of fruits and veggies—instant, drinkable vitamins and minerals. And let’s be real—meat is expensive. Consuming it in small amounts can still be satisfying. Treating lean meat as a side and veggies as the main goes a long way in saving you cash. You can even pack your plate with as many vegetable dishes as you can conjure up in one sitting—variety is the spice of life, right?
Stock up on foods that can play multiple roles in meals. For example, plain or Greek yogurt works as breakfast and as a condiment—swap out sour cream for it and reap the probiotic benefits of better gut health. And olive oil can be used for healthy cooking as well as a homemade salad dressing base.
Buy seasonal produce whenever possible. In-season fruits and veggies are more flavorful, nutritious, and affordable (because they’re more abundant). And when unusual fruits, vegetables, and herbs—like pluots—pop up at the farmers market or produce section, you just might be inspired to expand your horizons, adding nutritional and flavor variety into your diet.
As soon as you get to the store, make a beeline for the produce section to load up on the most nutritious items first. Then shop the perimeter, where whole foods like dairy, eggs, meat and fish, and fresh herbs are usually stocked. You might find you don’t even need to spend time aimlessly perusing the middle aisles, which are often a danger-zone filled with processed foods. (And remember, you can get any healthy perishable item you need on the cheap from Thrive Market!)
Before shopping, make a list of everything you need and follow it to a T. This intentional tunnel vision will prevent impulse buys and keep you focused on making healthy choices. Also, don’t shop on an empty stomach. Greasy potato chips can look mighty good when you’re starving.
If you map out your meals for the week ahead, you give yourself an edge in staying healthy and being aware of your budget. You’re thinking about ingredients, shopping specifically, and keeping yourself on track for eating smart rather than succumbing to the instant gratification of fast foods and snacks.
Home is where the health is! Cooking at home is probably one of the top things you can do to trim the fat from your food budget. Restaurant and fast-food meals really add up, and they’re often high in sugar and unhealthy fats. At home, you’ll always know exactly what’s in your food.
Again, mega difficult to stop cold turkey. Do it anyway. Snacking wastes a ton of money, and packs on the carbs. It’s ok to be hungry between meals. In fact, when you’re hungry that meal is going to taste a whole lot better!
To supplement fresh foods from the farmers market, Thrive Market has all the organic, non-GMO pantry staples, snacks, and condiments you need to curate a healthy life for you and yours—and everything is 25 to 50 percent off retail prices.