How to Prepare Nutritious but Affordable Meals

Everyone knows the importance of eating balanced and nutritious meals but due to financial constraints, many people find it quite a challenge to prepare healthy dishes every single day. As you can see from the grocery shelves or even in fast food restaurants, food items that are offered at low prices usually don't have much nutritional content.

However, if you're equipped with the necessary information and a well-organized plan, it is possible to prepare nutritious meals no matter how small your budget may be.

1. List down everything you need beforehand.

Before you go to the grocery store, make sure that you have listed all the items that you need. This list will not only help you remember what to buy, but will also keep you from straying and making unnecessary food purchases that are outside your budget.

These unexpected purchases are typically the ones that cause you to go over your budget. What's worse is that they are usually lacking in nutritional content as well. The best solution is to create a list, bring it with you when you go shopping, and only pick up those items that are included.

2. Watch out for grocery store sales.

Most supermarkets regularly hold sales, either to promote a new product or to get rid of slow-moving items that they have excessive stocks of. If you are shopping from a reputable store, there's really no need to worry about the quality of these on-sale items.

However, you should also check expiration dates for your own protection. Besides these regular store sales, you can also take advantage of small vendors who sell their own backyard-grown fruits and vegetables at a fraction of the cost in markets and grocery stores.

3. Buy staples in bulk.

You will notice that there are several items in the kitchen that you use on a regular basis such as rice, pasta or flour. Buying these products in large volumes can generate a lot of savings for you in the long run.

4. Eat at home before going shopping for food.

Just like most people say, it's not a good idea to shop for food when you are hungry. Everything on the shelves may look delicious, and this can lead to a lot of unnecessary impulse buys that cause you to go over your budget. You can easily avoid this problem by simply eating a bite or two before you leave the house.

5. Check the nutritional content of everything you buy.

The best way to know how healthy a certain food is for you is to read the nutritional information found at the side or back of most food packages. There's no use buying something offered at a low price if it doesn't provide you with enough nutrition anyway.

6. Verify the package size.

Some manufacturers purposely mislead their customers into thinking that there is more food than there really is in the package. You will then think you are getting more for a lower price when in fact, you're not getting all that much after all. It's not enough to just look at the packaging -- check the net weight which is usually written near the bottom of the box or can.

7. Take advantage of coupons.

If you have a coupon for something that you absolutely need, then by all means use the coupon. But if you are tempted to buy something you don't really need just because you have a coupon for it, that's a different thing.

8. Use less expensive substitutes.

Both animal meat and beans are very rich sources of protein. If you are working with a very tight budget, you can postpone having steak for another day. In the meantime, you can serve beans, which have equivalent protein content at a much more affordable price.

These are just the most common ways by which you can provide your family with healthy options despite having a limited budget. You can also devise your own ways to save more by incorporating fruits and vegetables in your daily menu because these items are quite inexpensive.

Once you get used to smart and healthy shopping, not only can you provide your family with nutritious dishes, but you will be saving a lot of the family budget as well.