Save: Bulk oatmeal
Oatmeal is one of the best foods to eat at the start of your day. It’s a slow-digesting carbohydrate, provides a high source of dietary fiber and contains a small amount of protein with hardly any sugar at all.
Skip: Boxed cereal
The breakfast that you can go without is regular cold cereal. Usually, these will not provide as much fiber as oatmeal and tend not to keep you feeling satisfied as long. If you want to prevent mid-morning hunger, a hot bowl of oatmeal is your best bet. Regular cereals can also get very calorie-dense, providing as much as 200 calories per half-cup serving. To top it all off, boxed cereal is more expensive than oatmeal.
Save: Chicken breasts
In order to maintain health, protein is an absolute requirement. If you try to go without sufficient protein, you will lose muscle mass. One of the best sources to get this protein is lean chicken breasts, so be sure you do keep these on your budget plan.
Skip: Sandwich meat
To make room for chicken breasts, stop buying sandwich meat. Sandwich meat is high in sodium and won’t provide you with a high-quality source of protein. If you’re looking for a cheap, convenient source of protein to take for lunches, consider light, flaked tuna instead.
Fats are an essential part of any diet, whether it’s aimed at muscle-building or fat loss. Choosing healthy sources will not only curb your appetite but also promote proper health. Natural peanut butter is a versatile source of healthy fats that is easier on the wallet than purchasing whole nuts such as almonds. It’s one food product that you should always make room for on your grocery budget.
Skip: Fruit jams
If you’re a frequent user of fruit jams, that’s a product that you can leave off the menu. These jars are about the same price as natural peanut butter and only supply you with a heavy hit of sugar with virtually no nutrition.
Most vegetables are full of nutrition, so doing your best to keep these in your grocery cart will go a long way toward overall nutrition. One nutrient superstar that must be kept is broccoli. Broccoli supplies you with over 100% of your vitamin C and K needs, and is a good source of vitamin A, folate and fiber.
Skip: Iceberg lettuce
To help make room in your budget for the broccoli, leave out the iceberg lettuce. This “filler” food doesn’t contain much nutrition and will do little more than add hydration to your body.
Save: Brown rice
For dinner meals, brown rice should be your choice of carbohydrates. It digests slowly and can be eaten with a wide variety of meals. You can even purchase 10-minute brown rice varieties, making this a perfect quick solution.
The carbohydrate-laden food that you want to leave off your plate is white pasta. Pasta tends to be very easy to overeat and can increase your risk for unwanted fat gain. If you aren’t a fan of rice, then have potatoes instead.
Save: Cottage cheese
Dairy products are important for supplying calcium and protein, and will contribute a small portion of carbohydrates as well. One of the best dairy products to keep on your menu is cottage cheese, since the casein protein digests slowly in the body and helps build and repair muscle tissue.
The dairy product that you can go without if you’re looking to cut costs is yogurt. Yogurt is lower in protein content than cottage cheese, and unless you go for a sugar-free variety (which contains artificial sweeteners), it is going to also have a higher amount of simple carbohydrates.
Keep your grocery basket in check
Always remember that one of the best ways to save money when it comes to food is to prepare your own meals instead of eating out. If you focus on packing your diet with as many nutrient-dense foods as you can, and seek out cheaper varieties of those foods, then you shouldn’t have to sacrifice proper nutrition to stick to your budget.