By SeAnne Safaii, Ph.D., RD, and Rachelle Ausman, UI dietetics student
Holidays and food budget are often contradictory. Sometimes just the thought of food planning can put a damper on the holiday spirit, but it doesn’t have to! With just a few minutes of planning at home and following a few strategies for the grocery store, you will not only have room in your budget for other things, but will impress your guests with your healthy holiday food selection.
The planning starts in the home, not the grocery store. This includes a few minutes estimating how much you are willing to spend on your food items for the holidays.
Next, it’s time to make a menu. From the Christmas ham to the apple pie, make sure to list the meal items needed for all of your holiday events. This will help prepare you to know what ingredients to look for at the grocery store, which will save you time and money in making multiple trips to the grocery store for missing ingredients.
After you have listed your menu, time to go through your pantry and refrigerator to look for ingredients that you might already have and for items that you will need. Write these needed ingredients as well as any missing ingredients on a list. There are now several FREE grocery list apps available for download on smart phones, such as the iPhone and Android.
After you have your grocery store list prepared, it’s time to show, but STICK TO THE LIST! Unnecessary items put into the grocery store cart can add up and ruin your holiday savings.
Here are a few grocery shopping strategies with a healthy twist:
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry, you are most likely to make impulse purchases.
- Start out your shopping by going around the perimeter of the store where the fresh produce and meats are located. This will leave little room in your cart for unnecessary items that can add to your budget.
- If your budget is tight, consider frozen fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables, although ideal for nutrients, are often seen as short-lived and expensive, but frozen fruits and vegetables contain about the same amount of nutrients as fresh produce.
- Buy from the bulk bins for baking ingredients including flour and holiday spices such as cinnamon. Make sure to keep these ingredients in airtight containers though, once at home.
- Try less expensive protein options for baking substitutes, appetizers or the main meal. These include eggs, beans, quinoa, fresh ground peanut butter, canned tuna in water, Greek or regular yogurt and tofu.
After all of your items from your grocery list are in your cart, time to check out
By following these few strategies and planning ahead, you will not only have a budget of savings that will bring holiday cheer, but also a well-planned menu that will impress your family and friends.
For more strategies in saving money at the grocery store during the holidays, check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Web page at www.eatrightidaho.blogspot.com.