Healthy food shopping that won’t break the bank

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

Budgeting for a healthy grocery list can sound scary and time-consuming, especially when students have other things going on, like debt, rent and other bills.
However, Ally Kuehn, a nutrition promotion coordinator from the Health Education and Resource Center, said it does not have to be.
Kuehn said if students plan, know what they have to spend money on, such as bills, know what they want to spend money on and stick to a budget, then saving money and living a healthy lifestyle can be possible.
“I think having a budget is a good thing because you can kind of stick to what you really want, like eating healthy or making sure that you can get everything that you need to do,” she said. “It’s just going to build you success for ‘adulting.’”
Kuehn said students do not take advantage of frugality, such as looking for and using coupons during a grocery shopping trip.
“What I try to do is stay within my budget. I try to stay within how much money I am spending each month, with how much my income level is,” she said. “I never want to go more into debt. I try to stay at a good level and if I have any money left over, I try to save it. I know that I’m not going to be in college forever, so I know that I need to save.”
When it comes to budgeting for groceries, Kuehn said the first thing students should look at is what they want to eat in any given week.
That means they should plan out meals and look at the types of ingredients certain recipes call for, she said.
“Meal planning is a big term that’s used all the time, but it doesn’t have to be, so you can prepare snacks of fruits or vegetables for a week and grab them on your way to class, or you can plan out two or three days of eating in advance. So, you can plan out your breakfast, lunch and dinner, or some people even go to a higher end and plan two weeks of meals in advance,” she said.
But the meal planning depends on the student’s budget, and Kuehn said the lowest amount that students should spend on groceries is $50 every two weeks.
“I know that seems like a lot, however it’s really not,” she said. “You want to try to eat more and cook more at home. If you buy food out, you’re spending two times the amount that you could make a meal at home. So you’re going to be saving a ton of money if you cook at home.”
She said watching cooking shows or videos can be helpful.
After students map out their meals, Kuehn said they should then make a grocery list, keeping frozen foods such as fruits, meats and vegetables in mind.
“Stocking up is not a bad thing, but be more conscious of what you’re buying and its shelf life,” she said.
Kuehn said students should be aware of their eating style and habits.
“I personally don’t have the time to eat all of these great leafy greens, so I just buy one head of romaine lettuce and that’s how much I’ll eat in a week so I don’t let it go bad,” she said. “However, if I’m getting frozen fruits or vegetables, those are going to last way longer in my freezer and they’re going to be just as healthy. So that’s an easy way to save money by also getting your fruits and vegetables in.”
As for eating healthy, Kuehn said students should keep healthy foods in mind, but should not have to break the bank.
She said being flexible and creative is important, along with looking at the weekly sales, what foods are in season and looking at lower-priced items will help save money.
She said to keep things simple, students can shop for recipes that are already known and have ingredients that can be used in other recipes.
“That way you’re not buying Italian (food ingredients) one night and Mexican (food ingredients) another night,” Kuehn said.
Kuehn also recommended that students eat what they buy.
“Save your money by not wasting food that you already purchased. That means you need to get a little more creative in the kitchen and try incorporating every ingredient, whether that’s making a smoothie and mixing in the rest of your fruits and veggies in there or making a cool pasta dish,” she said.
Kuehn said students do not have to do this alone.
She can offer one-on-one sessions with students and help create a meal plan and shopping list based on an individual’s dietary needs.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].