More and more Americans are realizing the benefits of “plant-forward” eating—that is, eating mostly plant-based foods such as vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, soy, nuts and seeds. A “plant-forward” diet does not exclude any food groups, including meats and dairy. Instead, it emphasizes and celebrates plant-based foods.
The choice to build your diet around more vegetables, grains or legumes is not only nutritionally-sound, but it can be a budget-friendly choice, too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report on the average retail food prices in cities across the United States, fruits and vegetables prices were less expensive than the meats, poultry and fish (May, June 2017).
It’s back to school time and meal planning and grocery shopping can be a challenge, especially as you want to keep the budget in check. A plant-based diet can help cut costs and save time. Here are five smart budget-friendly tips that are easy to incorporate into your busy schedule.
Shop at farmers’ markets and whole food stores
Remember, the more a product is processed and packaged, the more it can be expensive. Instead, shop at a farmers’ market for fresh produce where you can support your local vendors and potentially save money. Many farmers’ markets have vendors that sell peanuts, which fit well into a plant-forward diet as a delicious and sustainable food and protein source.
Purchase legumes and whole grains in bulk
Always look for the bulk food aisle or shop at a wholesale store for products with long shelf lives; such as beans, lentils or peanuts, and reduce your trips to the store as well as save your money. While purchasing in bulk can seem relatively pricey, it's worth it in the long run.
Freeze your vegetables
Leafy greens such as spinach and kale tend to spoil quickly. To avoid wasting and replacing, freeze them while they are at their peak of freshness and just add them to smoothies, curries and stir-fries. Store in heavy-weight, air-tight containers or freezer bags in order to keep moisture inside the package and air outside. Air can cause changes in flavor and color.
Plan, plan, plan. Before going to the store, take inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer. This will guarantee you're only spending money on foods you actually need and not doubling up on items you already have, which will then run the risk of going bad. Make a detailed shopping list of those foods as you plan your weeks’ worth of meals and remember to look for sales. If your local grocery store offers a savings card, make sure you sign up. Prepping food in advance is a step in the right direction towards healthy eating, and it's also a good way to make sure you're eating what's in the fridge, to minimize waste.
Keep an organized fridge and pantry and repurpose leftovers
Organize your refrigerator in a way that ensures you'll remember to use the foods you need to. If you freeze foods, make sure you occasionally go through your freezer and eat everything in there. Waste of leftovers or frozen food can be minimized by keeping an orderly fridge and freezer and by labeling. If you’re on a busy schedule, cooking enough food to last a few days saves both time and money. You can take leftovers as lunch or put your meals in containers to freeze and re-heat. Consider repurposing leftovers into an entirely new and delicious meal.
For more information on plant-forward option visit Put Plants Forward at Your Next Meal