Ultimate Guide to Healthy Eating on a Budget
One of the biggest reasons a lot of people say they can’t eat more healthy foods is because it is too expensive and they just can’t afford to buy fresh or organic foods. Unfortunately, this thinking tends to lead people to choose unhealthy choices like processed foods or fast food instead.
Making those types of food choices do come with its consequences, such as unwanted pounds, too much sugar and preservatives, digestive issues, or even long-term medical issues.
Today we want to help you discover how to eat healthy on a budget with our ultimate guide book. You will gain the knowledge needed to make better food choices that are healthy and chock full of nutrients to help you live your best life.
Why Are Healthy Foods So Expensive?
Truth be told, this is the biggest misconception about eating healthy! In fact, we are positive that you will spend more money eating at fast-food restaurants and shopping in the center aisles of the grocery stores than you will ever spend eating healthy home-cooked meals.
If you look at the prices of whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc., you will see that they are often much cheaper than that big box of brand-name sugary cereal or those heavily processed packaged cakes and cookies. You can still have cookies and cakes, but make them yourself with fresh ingredients that are better for you.
One of the biggest tips we give our customers about eating healthy is to stay on the outside perimeter of the grocery store and only shop the center aisles for essentials like canned goods, rice, and whole grains. Try to do most of your shopping in the produce, fresh meat, and cold foods departments to encourage less preservatives and artificial ingredients in the ingredients you’ll eventually use to make a meal.
Top 5 Tips For Healthy Eating on a Budget
Tip #1: Plan Most of Your Meals
A big mistake a lot of people make when going grocery shopping is that they don’t make a shopping list, nor do they think about what they will be eating the entire week. This normally causes people to buy random unnecessary items that quickly add up in extra costs.
There are plenty of apps available now that make creating a shopping list and meal planning super easy!
Take time to sit down once a week by yourself or with family members to plan the upcoming week's meals, and then check your cupboards for things you already have on-hand. No sense in buying the same or similar items you already have in your kitchen.
You should plan on going to the grocery store once a week -- stick to your list and your budget. This will not only help you control your spending, but it’s also time-saving to run in and get what’s on your list instead of browsing every aisle and being tempted by unhealthy foods.
Tip #2: Shop Smart
Choosing seasonal foods can save you a ton of money. Produce is very seasonal and when you eat produce according to the time of year, you can really start seeing huge savings.
Think about apples or strawberries -- when they are in season, you can load up and bake some great desserts that are freezer-friendly that you can save for when those fruits are out of season. Purchase frozen produce and fruits when they are not in season, some will even have more nutrients than when fresh due to the time they were harvested and frozen.
Check your local grocery store’s weekly ads while making your grocery list for the week and see what’s on sale. A buy-one-get-one deal is one of the best ways to save money. When you see items on sale that you enjoy regularly and know you’ll buy anyway, stock up and fill your pantry with anything you know will be eaten in the next few months.
And lastly, buy whole foods that come in larger quantities; this will save you more money in the long run, think cheese blocks versus bags of shredded cheese.
Bonus tip: Try making larger quantities of meals and freezing your leftovers for other days or for a fast meal-on-the-go option when time is of the essence.
Tip #3: Timing is Everything
We strongly suggest not grocery shopping when you are hungry or haven’t eaten within a few hours. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make because when you’re hungry, everything looks good and it’s harder to control yourself.
We suggest going grocery shopping after you’ve eaten a meal like breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You will find that shopping on a full tummy will be much easier and you will be able to stick to your shopping list without any temptations from hunger pains.
If it’s not possible to eat a meal before grocery shopping, then choosing to eat an apple or another piece of fruit prior to shopping will help keep you focused, and may satisfy your sweet tooth as well. Even some yogurt or cheese and crackers will suffice.
Tip #4: Spotlight Different Ingredients Besides Meat
If you buy a larger quantity of fresh meat in promotion, you can use it for several different meals, but you don’t need to go out of your way to buy meat for every single meal otherwise.
Don’t make meat the main spotlight of every plate, turn to superfoods, vegetables, and whole grains to help create a well-balanced meal. There are plenty of other proteins like eggs, fish, legumes, etc. that can replace the meat on your plate. Some vegetables such as eggplant can also be the main attraction.
Don’t be shy to experiment!
Tip #5: Start Growing Your Garden
Growing your own fruits and veggies has become huge in the past few years because people are now more health-conscious and want to make sure they aren’t consuming pesticides.
When you create a garden filled with things you love, your body will also benefit from the extra movement that gardening requires.
If you’re new to gardening and want to try it out, we suggest starting simple and grabbing a few packs of seeds to start growing your own tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and bell peppers.
If you want to get a head start, some plants when very young can also be cheap ways to get lots of produce for minimal costs, such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries (though these are tad harder to grow).
Don’t forget about fresh herbs -- you can go small with a window box in your kitchen, or you can go big and create an herb garden on your patio or in your garden. Herbs are one of the easiest things to grow, so choose your favorites and start enjoying fresh herbs in all your meals.
Note: Some plants like all the berries mentioned above come back year after year, so this is only a one-time cost that will give you years of delicious berries!
We hope that this ultimate guide to healthy eating on a budget has inspired you to start planning, cooking, and enjoying all your meals. Many people think that it’s just too hard to make changes to their lifestyle. All it takes is making the first step.
Let one foot follow the other and find yourself saving hundreds of dollars every month!