Having a nutritious diet doesn't have to break the bank. All you have to do is cook at home more often, and apply some simple methods when you shop for ingredients. Enjoy the change, then you'll enjoy the savings, the meals, and the health that comes with it.

1. Form a Seasonal Menu

Fruits and vegetables tend to fluctuate in price and quality according to when they are in season. Plan a menu using seasonal produce, and you're sure to have flavorful food at a fraction of the cost. If you're not sure which produce items are in season, just look at the prices and quantities. If there's an overabundance of something and it's on sale, odds are it's in season.

2. Use Your Meat, Poultry, and Fish Sparingly

Restaurants have conditioned us to think of meat as the showcase of any entree. Not only is that costly on your budget, but it's not a healthy idea. Try to use small amounts of meat in a dish to add a difference in the appearance, flavor, and texture. The main part of your dish should be whole grains and vegetables. Good examples are stir frys over brown rice, pasta dishes, pizzas, calzones, and salads.

3. Fill The Pantry And The Freezer

Stock up on dry goods and freezer items at a warehouse store like Sam's Club or CostCo where they sell in bulk for rock-bottom prices. Brown rice, lentils, and beans are great items on sale there. They sell frozen fruits and vegetables picked at the peak of freshness with no sugar added. Use the vegetables in soups and stir frys. The fruits can be used in smoothies, desserts, or salads. Powdered drinks, like lemonade, fruit-flavored tea, and sports drinks are a great money saver too. They'll also help you stay away from high-sugar sodas.

4. Plan Several Meatless Meals

By forgoing meat and cutting down on dairy products you'll save money on your grocery bills in the short term, and save money on healthcare costs in the long term. It's estimated that the average family saves $4,000 a year buying vegetables instead of meat. Eating plant-based foods will make you less likely to have weight-related disorders like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It will also lower your risk of cancer.

5. Do Prep-Work Yourself

A lot of grocery stores are selling "shortcuts" like fruits, veggies, and herbs pre-cut or processed. Unless you're going to eat them that night, I recommend buying the produce instead. These shortcuts have less freshness and flavor with a higher price tag.photo by wordridden