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Success F inan ce FOOD BUDGETING Meal planning and grocery shopping are always a challenge. The good news is that you can eat healthy, even on the most super-tight budget. The key is being flexible, creative and shopping smart. T E X T BY SA N DY L I N D S E Y 1. 2. 3. 4. Freeze It: Produce prices vary by season. Luckily, much of it can be frozen. Stock up while it’s cheap and store it through the pricier months. Sale Shop: Make your weekly meal plan based on what’s on sale. Most grocery chains vary sales on a rotating basis to keep things interesting and nutritious. Still Prime: Eliminating meat is one of the first things to do when on a tight budget. Opt for cheaper cuts like chicken thighs rather than chicken breasts. Grans/Beans: One of the most inexpensive and healthy ways to fill a plate is with whole grains, brown rice and black beans. Basically, all the fabulous sides we order at restaurants anyway. 50 5. Plan Ahead: Prep weekly meals on Sundays (or the day of your choice) to lessen overall time in the kitchen. Plus, you’ll end up using what’s in your fridge and lessening costly waste. 6. Go International: Mexican and Indian cuisines are some of the most delicious fares out there yet are comprised of some of the least expensive ingredients, like broth, beans and rice. 7. Neat Beat: Leftovers are a staple in our society, but often end up in the back of the fridge/freezer until they are no longer safe to eat. Store your leftovers in air-tight containers and label them with a use-by-date. 8. Leftover Redux: Tired of the same meal for several days? Repurpose leftovers into imaginative salads, sandwiches, soups, etc. This is especially useful around special occasions. 9. Be Late: The key to shopping at a farmer’s market is to go about an hour before they close when vendors offer great deals to offload their stock so they don’t have to carry it all back to the farm. 10. Cultural Cheap: Ethnic markets are a great source of interesting ingredients at great, below-market prices. A good example is Asian noodles and ghee, both of which are overpriced at most grocery stores.