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How to Shop for Wholesome, Sustainable Foods on a Budget


Shopping on a budget is always a challenge. But, with rising inflation, many are finding things to be even more difficult when it comes to purchasing nourishing grocery items and ingredients.

While rising costs are no fun, there are ways to add value to your pantry. All it takes is a slight shift in mindset and shopping habits. Here we have tips and tricks to help you shop affordably for wholesome, sustainable foods so you can get the most out of your groceries.

The Pantry Is a Great Place to Add Value

Plant-based ingredients are part of a balanced diet, and buying them fresh can feel satisfying. But unless you plan, a lot of your beautiful, fresh produce can go to waste.

According to the USDA, 30-40% of our food is wasted each year. The most recent data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that in 2018 food waste came to 63.1 million tons. That’s the fourth largest material category for municipal solid waste management in the country.

There are many reasons so much food is wasted in the US. One contributing factor is consumers overbuying or cooking more than they need. With rising grocery prices, this is hard on both the environment and our wallets.

Add More Value With Shelf-Stable Foods

The good news is that we can eat sustainably without wasting food or money by purchasing shelf-stable items. These items have a long shelf life and are easy to store in your pantry or cupboards. This allows you to still eat nourishing foods without them going to waste.

When these foods go on sale, it is easy to stock up. Examples of shelf-stable items include:

How to Add Value During Your Next Shopping Trip

So, should you be purchasing all shelf-stable foods? As always, give yourself a balance between fresh and shelf-stable items. Just remember that planning can make all the difference.

When buying fresh foods, research their shelf-life and how soon you’ll be consuming those foods. Use the USDA’s Foodkeeper app to help you properly store your food and beverages. Try not to buy more than you’ll need before they go to waste. These methods will ensure your ability to enjoy your groceries to the fullest.

Need a tool to help you out? Try the free USDA app My Plate to help you save money while shopping for healthy foods. It also helps you prepare budget-friendly meals and is available on all devices.

Plant Up Your Meal Plan

Another way to slim down your grocery bill is to add more vegetables to your meals and cut down on expensive products like meat and dairy. Veggies are a great way to get all your nutrients and still delight your tastebuds. In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health recommends making plants at least 3/4 of your plate!

This can be an exciting opportunity to try vegetables you’ve never prepared before and experiment with new recipes. For instance, your next Sunday brunch could be this recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Breakfast Oats with Vegetables and Avocado. Or, your new favorite comfort food could be this Spiced Cauliflower Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese.

Veggie recipes also include countless soups and stews. When you want to eat more veggies but don’t want them to spoil, soups are a great option. You can make them in big batches and freeze them for later use, ensuring nothing goes to waste.

The other great thing about soup is it’s hard to mess up. That means if you’re just starting your vegetable cooking journey, you’re sure to turn out a great-tasting veggie soup. Options include this warming Ginger & Turmeric Carrot Soup or this Hearty Vegan Chili.

Whether you use them as a side dish or make them the main event, there are endless possibilities to enjoy more vegetables. The next time you go to the market, look at all the produce, and don’t be afraid to venture into new territory. Your tummy and your wallet will surely thank you!

Go for Hearty

Even though vegetables are typically lower-priced, sometimes you need something more to hit the spot. That’s where hearty foods come in. These are foods and recipes that have more protein and fiber in them to help you feel satisfied.

There are plenty of plant-based options that will fill you up and are less expensive than meat, dairy and eggs. Plant-based proteins like beans and tofu are a great way to feel satisfied and get more for your dollar.

If you’re new to plant-based eating or need more ideas, here are some hearty food choices:

  • Seitan: This is made from gluten and has a very similar look and texture to animal meat. One cup of seitan has 16.5 grams of protein. Seitan goes great with rice and a variety of veggies. Try it with an Asian stir fry!
  • Black Beans: A single cup of cooked back beans has a whopping 15.2 grams of protein. Plus, they’re rich in fiber and minerals like calcium and magnesium. Add black beans to a veggie soup, include them in your next chili recipe or use them for your next taco night.
  • Tofu: Tofu is made from soybeans and has 21.8 grams of protein per half a cup. While it doesn’t have much flavor, it absorbs other flavors very well. That makes it great fried or with flavorful pho soups.
  • Lentils: Lentils can be made into soup, stews, salads or as a side dish. One cup of cooked lentils has 17.9 grams of protein. They’re also high in fiber and are incredibly filling.

Find Ways to Enjoy Organic and Non-GMO Foods on a Budget

Organic and non-GMO foods tend to cost more, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them on a tight budget. The best way to enjoy them on a budget is by prioritizing which foods to buy organically.

First, it’s important to know the difference between organic and non-GMO foods. All certified organic foods are also non-GMO foods. Non-GMO foods without a certified organic label mean they’re not genetically modified, but also not organic.

If you’re focusing on bringing more organic and non-GMO foods into your diet, keep it budget-friendly by starting with prioritizing what to buy organic based on your family’s needs. Remember that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Prioritizing a few favorite items will allow you to enjoy these foods without going over budget. Plant-based milks, organic soups, and broths & stocks are all great options with which to start.

Keep it Budget-Friendly With Pacific Foods Shelf-Stable Products

Adding shelf-stable products to your pantry goes a long way. At Pacific Foods, we help you accomplish your sustainable-eating goals with affordable products made from wholesome ingredients. Stock up your pantry and shop our products today.