It is possible to eat healthy on a budget; it is false information that eating healthy has to be expensive. Here are a few budget friendly healthy eating strategies that will keep you healthy and will not empty your wallet.
Avoid pre-packaged healthy foods and wash and chop your own foods – Our population values a highly convenient lifestyle and this has transitioned into our current food supply. But the more convenient a healthy food is, the higher the cost, unless you’re buying low-quality foods. So if you want to save money, look for ways to cut the convenience out of the food. Instead of purchasing pre-washed and chopped lettuce cut and wash them yourself at home. Challenge yourself to find foods that are in their whole natural state as much as possible, plain oats are cheaper than the healthy flavored oatmeal packets. Instead of precooked meats, purchase them raw. Instead of individual yogurt cartons, purchase a pint or more at a time. The more individualized and the smaller the package, the more costly they will be.
Pay attention to serving sizes. Over eating any kind of food is not healthy or budget friendly. Set your plate up with ¼ of the plate as a healthy protein such as a 4-6oz piece of chicken breast, salmon filet, steak filet, etc., then fill up ½ of the plate with a non-starchy vegetable like salad or steamed broccoli, and the remaining quarter of the plate can be a carbohydrate like a small red potato, or wild rice. This plate method is best for overall metabolism, blood sugar control and will help you adhere to your budget rather than over buying food portions trying to fill up at each meal.
Look for items that are in season – Finding produce like vegetables and fruits that are in season will always be cheaper than those items that had to be imported a long way from home. The nutritional benefits of eating foods in season are also something to consider. Foods in season are at their peak nutritional value and have numerous health benefits. Citrus fruits are rich in immune system boosting vitamin C and their season is during the cold months, also known as cold and flu season.
Buy in bulk – Buying in bulk allows you to get more food for your dollar, and there are many opportunities and creative ways to do so. Make it a habit to only buy your nuts, seeds and real whole grains (quinoa, steel cut oats) within the large barrels or bins in the store, processed “whole grains” in pre-packaged containers are not healthy and tend to actually raise blood sugars and promote weight gain. Look for online recipes on how to prepare the grains that come in bulk and store your nuts and seeds in an air tight container at home instead of relying on a plastic pour out bottle from the store. Buying in bulk is not only good for your wallet but also better for the environment. Instead of purchasing individual pounds of ground beef, think of seeking out an all-natural shop or local farmer to purchase several pounds of a cow instead.
Grow your own herbs – In order to eat healthy for life, food has to taste good and be packed with flavor. Flavor in unhealthy cooking comes from excessive fats, salts and sugars; healthy cooking flavor comes from herbs and spices. Herbs taste their best when they are fresh, but buying fresh herbs all of the time can be expensive and wasteful if the entire portion is not used. Growing your own herb garden is a great way to always have flavor on hand for a healthy dish and just picking off what you need will save money and reduce waste.
If you fail to plan you will pay for it. It’s extremely important to plan a grocery and food budget and stick to it each month, if you are trying to save money or avoid overspending. Challenge yourself to stick to it every time, you will probably end up packing your lunches and eating out less which is healthier anyway. Don’t forget to plan your meals for the week so you are able to develop a list and you will avoid unnecessary trips to the store, that only end up costing you more money. This will help you focus at the grocery store and only buy what you are planning on using, not processed/packaged junk food items. Sure, every now and again I might purchase something off of the list that is a good deal or looks good, but don’t make a habit of going to the store without a plan . Having a plan will also reduce or eliminate food waste, which is never good for the overall budget.
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