10 tips for eating healthy on a budget
Transforming Health | 03.11.13
You can eat healthy and stay within your budget.
We all know that adding fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains into our diets is good for us. But, as the prices go up at the grocery store, it is harder and harder to know how to eat healthfully within our budget.
It can be daunting, but the tips below will help you make healthy choices easier when you're committed to a budget. You can do it!
1. When it pays to go organic
Organic options usually cost more because they contain fewer chemicals and pesticides. That makes growing these items more labor-intensive. But, experts say that a good place to spend your organic dollars is on fresh produce.
The Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15" guides, provide you with lists of the fruits and vegetables that are cleanest and which are most susceptible to pesticide residue. They'll help you decide which ones you should buy organic when you have the option.
2. Eat less meat
Instead of eating meat every night, try swapping in some whole grains and legumes. Dried beans and peas are inexpensive sources of protein and fiber, and they’ll last a long time on your shelf without spoiling.
There are other benefits that come with having a plant-based diet, which emphasizes fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and legumes, and nuts, is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people who eat only plant-based foods — aka vegetarians — generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less, and have a lower risk of heart disease than nonvegetarians do.
3. Buy in bulk
You’ll find that buying in bulk results in lower prices and it cuts down on wasteful packaging.
4. Stock up on frozen produce
Stock up on frozen fruits and veggies. But, you might ask- is it healthy? Wellness expert, Dr. Weil answers that question here.
5.Pack your lunch
Eating take-out, snacking at the vending machine, or eating cafeteria food can easily derail your fitness goals and put a dent in your budget. Packing your own food ensures that you’re in control of your cash and your calories. Check out these cheap ways to pack a healthy lunch.
6. Cook from scratch
You’re paying for convenience when you buy pre-cut veggies, instant oatmeal and frozen dinners. So, get back to the basics and take the time to cook from scratch.
7. Love your leftovers
Throwing away food means you’re throwing away your money! Try to repurpose your leftovers by adding spices, cooking up a stir-fry, creating a fresh salad, or making a soup or chili.
You'll save when you buy seasonal and local.
8. Seasonal and local is the way to go
You’ll save money when you shop at your local farmers markets because local foods that are in season don't need to be shipped or stored, which will cut down on costs. You’ll discover that the food tastes fresher, too!
- Use the Locavore app to see what’s in season near you.
9. Practice the 3 P’s
The 3 P's are Plan, Purchase, Prepare
Plan: Planning ahead will save you money at the grocery store.
- Shop with a list so you don't give in to impulse buying.
- Eat before shopping to avoid impulse buying.
- Take a look at what meals you can make with the food you already have, then write a list of what missing ingredients will complete your meals.
You'll save when you practice The 3 P's.
- Comparison shop.
- Clip coupons.
- Use a store discount card, if available.
- Look at sell by dates. Buy the freshest food possible as it will last longer.
- Buy generic store brands.
- Try prepping several meals for the week at one time. You can freeze and de-thaw when needed.
10. Plant a garden
When you grow your own grub, not only will your freshly-picked food taste great and save you some money, but gardening is a great family activity that is shown to relieve stress. You can try preserving your food by canning, freezing or dehydrating, and have tasty food all year round.
Sources: USDA, webMD, Mayo Clinic
Tell us: Do you find it hard to eat healthy and stay within your budget? Have you found any tricks that have helped you? What advice can you share with others who are trying to make healthy food choices? Please leave a comment below.