Most people don’t know how to eat well for less. You can either save money or eat healthily but most people don’t believe that eating well on a budget is possible
For the most part, nobody sets out to eat an unhealthy diet. But between busy lives and a limited budget, it’s not always easy.
Admittedly, it’s not the easiest thing in the world. It requires practice, commitment, motivation, and a little bit of knowledge. While we can’t do anything to help your motivation, we can offer you a few tips on healthy eating on a budget.
Avoid the Frozen Food Aisle
A lot of people think that frozen foods are the answer to eat well for less, but it’s actually just a way to eat cheap but not particularly well. The ingredients used in frozen foods are usually cheap because they’re not particularly healthy. These foods have also been processed, which also eliminates a lot of their nutritional value, even if they look healthy on the outside.
The healthy alternative is to make all of your meals from scratch rather than relying on meals that can be put into the microwave or oven. Just look at some of the meals in the frozen food aisle and see if you can replicate them using ingredients you can collect from the rest of the store. You’ll be surprised to find out that there isn’t much financial difference between the two while the health difference is extraordinary when you cook from scratch.
Don’t Shop Hungry
The first rule of healthy eating on a budget is to never go shopping when you’re hungry. For starters, you’ll end up with a lot more food than you actually need to satisfy your diet, which will cause you to needlessly spend money.
Perhaps more importantly, the kind of foods you’ll crave when you’re hungry are usually not the foods that contribute to a healthy diet. Hungry shoppers buy impulse items in the checkout line that aren’t healthy and that they don’t really need. Go shopping after you’ve had a meal or a snack and try to stick to the items on your list.
Always Plan Ahead
Having a shopping list when you go to the grocery store is one key part of planning ahead, which is essential to sticking to a diet that’s healthy and budget-conscious. You should also get in the habit of planning out your meals several days ahead of time, preferably a week or more.
If you come home tired from work with nothing planned, you’ll cook what’s easy and not what’s healthy. Instead, plan ahead by searching for healthy and affordable meal ideals to last you a week and then only putting the items you need on your shopping list. While this takes some of the spontaneity out of cooking, it’s one of the best methods of eating well on a budget.
Find Cost-Effective Fruits and Veggies
It’s next to impossible putting together a healthy diet without including a lot of fruits and vegetables. The trick is finding fruits and veggies that are cost-effective so that you don’t surpass your budget on the healthiest foods available. Fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas are usually the cheapest ways to get regular servings of fruits into your diet.
On the vegetable side, the same is true of sweet potatoes, peppers, carrots, and cabbage. At the same time, make sure you focus on the foods that are in-season because they’ll always be cheaper. Finally, fruits are the one area where it’s okay to use the frozen food aisle, as they will be cheaper without losing nutritional value.
Be Smart with Meat
Outside of vegetarians, everybody loves a little meat in their diet. However, this can also be the most expensive part of your diet. The trick is to buy cheaper meats like chicken thighs rather than chicken breasts or stew beef instead of steak. Also, avoid eating meat by itself.
Throw in beans, rice, vegetables, and other sides into the meal, which will help satisfy your hunger while reducing the amount of meat that you use. This way, your meat budget will stretch a lot further and you’ll be able to diversify your meals a little more, which makes them healthier.