I hear people say all the time “I really want to eat healthier, but it seems so expensive and time consuming”! Well, it doesn’t have to be that way, even if you have a tight budget and a busy schedule. Today, eating unhealthy because of fast and convenient is an easy trap to fall into, like those packaged/frozen/canned meals that are high in sodium, sugars, and unhealthy fats.
But if you know the tricks, you quickly learn there are better options and you don’t have to sacrifice your diet for money and convenience. With proper planning, we all can take the necessary steps to starting a healthier way and learn what healthy items are easily found in your local grocery.
Below are some tips and tricks that should guide you to eating healthier on a budget.
Buy whole and unprocessed foods. They are cheaper and more nutritious than processed foods. Avoid most of the middle aisles of the store and avoid the boxed items.
Avoid buying plastic water bottles, sodas, and sports drinks. You can drink filtered water from the tap. Most bottled waters are in plastic, which are laced with chemicals that may affect your health. Sodas and sports drinks have a lot of sugars in them and may contribute to weight gain and other health issues.
Buy produce that’s in season so that you get a variety in your diet and get fresh food. Another tip with this is to buy whole fruits and vegetables rather than the pre-cut. You have to spend some extra time cutting them up, but they are extremely nutritious and much cheaper.
Cut back on the amount of expensive meat that you buy and purchase other forms of proteins to help your budget significantly. Some cheaper forms of meats and protein include: canned tuna, chicken thighs, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, eggs, and beans. These are packed with protein, fiber, and good carbohydrates. Also, eating a form of protein with each meal keeps you full longer. There are even lentil or bean based pastas that are fairly inexpensive and a great source of good carbohydrates and protein. And also, remember to avoid any food intolerances and/or food allergies.
Buy in bulk and from bulk bins, especially if something has been discounted. You can find grains, like quinoa, oats, and rice, in this section that add variety to your diet.
Incorporate healthy fats like nuts, nut butters, ghee, flaxseeds, chia seeds, avocados, and olive oil into your daily diet. They fill you up and save you extra bucks.
Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. These are oftentimes less expensive than fresh and you can buy these in bulk. Also, if the picking and freezing process of the food has been done right, they may contain more nutrients than fresh ones. This often works great for people who cannot finish all the fresh foods in time before they go bad.
Buy generic food and/or store brands. Most of the time these are very close to or exactly the same ingredient content of the brand names but with lower prices.
Use coupons or sign up for that store’s customer card that gives you instant discounts at checkout. Regardless of how much extra funds you have or don’t have, use these coupons.
Meal prep! This is initially more time consuming, but it helps so much in the long run. You will eat out less frequently and it is so much cheaper! An added bonus to preparing your own food is that it puts you in control of the ingredients for a healthier meal. Meal prep your snacks too! Wash, cut, and put your snacks, like fruits or vegetables, in little bags or containers so you can grab and go during the week. Use this prep time to know your foods and begin to appreciate more what you are going to put in your body.
Make extra portions of your meals and take them with you as leftovers the next day. You will save money on lunch and know that you are eating a healthy meal.
Grow your own food. There are even options to do so in apartment style living with balcony gardens.
Don’t give up! Just try a few new ways and do your best. You will see the difference in your health and in your wallet!
By: Monica ǀ WHEN Health Advisor®