Life hack your grocery list. Follow these five simple guidelines to save time, money, and make healthy eating a total breeze. Who is stressed about grocery shopping? Not you.
Limit meat and dairy consumption.
Meat and dairy products are expensive and can be tough on digestion. You don’t have to eliminate them from your diet entirely, just use them sparingly, for flavor. Think of it this way, meat and dairy may not be the stars of the dish, but they can still play a supporting role. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are a great way to bulk up a meal when you want to cut back on meat.
Develop a repertoire of cheap, reliable staples.
These are super inexpensive but incredibly versatile foods like oats, pasta, rice, beans, and canned tomatoes. There are endless ways to incorporate these ingredients into any meal. Try making a big batch of rice when you have the time and saving it in the fridge. Add it to a salad, use it as a base for cooked veggies, or throw it in a burrito. Staples like these won’t expire before you have a chance to use them, which means less waste and less trips to the store.
Get comfortable with frozen and canned vegetables.
Fresh vegetables are great, but they have an expiration date. When stocking up on everyday essentials, try adding frozen and canned vegetables to your list. A bag of frozen veggies in the freezer makes an excellent impromptu addition to lunch or dinner. The nutritional value is just as good as the fresh stuff—sometimes even better. Canned spinach, for example, actually has more vitamin c per serving than fresh spinach, and it won’t go bad. Just make sure to opt for canned foods with no salt added. The best part? Everything is already chopped for you.
Skip the pre-prepared or single-use sweet treats.
This does not mean you must skip dessert. Instead of buying a box of cake mix or that carton of pre-made brownies next to the register, keep the ingredients on hand. Flour, sugar, baking soda, and cocoa powder offer endless possibilities. Not only will this save you money, but making the extra effort to prepare a sweet treat means you're less likely to mindlessly indulge. But if you do want a little treat with minimal effort, try making a mug brownie in the microwave. It’s still a single-serving portion, which means you won’t accidentally overeat.
Prepare coffee and iced tea at home in large batches.
Brewing your own coffee is so much cheaper (and better for the environment) than running out for a single cup or buying single serving bottles at the store. For the freshest taste, buy whole beans and invest in a basic coffee grinder. If cold brew is your thing, grind your beans using the coarse setting and let the grounds steep in a pitcher of filtered water overnight, or for at least twelve hours. Strain and serve just the way you like it.
You can make large batches of iced tea at home using the same method. Let loose-leaf tea or whole tea bags steep in water for six to twelve hours, depending on how strong you want the tea to be. In the warmer months, try letting a pitcher of tea steep on a sunny windowsill, patio, or in the backyard. The sun will do the brewing for you. Chill and serve. Your tea will stay fresh and delicious in the fridge for days.