How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Healthy eating often comes at an expensive price tag, but that doesn’t have to be the case! With proper planning, shopping smart, and bulk buying you can eat well on a tight budget.
Don’t be put off by purchasing frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, they are usually cheaper and last much longer than fresh produce.
1. Shop at the right time.
One of the primary barriers to making healthier food choices is cost. Although some nutrient-rich options, like kombucha, avocado oil and fresh produce can often cost more than packaged ramen or boxed macaroni and cheese, there are ways to get healthier food on a budget.
One of the best ways to keep costs under control is shopping at off peak times. While this may not always be feasible, shopping during weekdays instead of weekends may result in lower crowds and prices.
Another way to reduce costs is avoiding buying unnecessary items and minimizing food waste – each year in the U.S. alone, an estimated 119 billion pounds of food goes uneaten! You can limit this wasteful activity by taking an inventory of your pantry prior to shopping and only purchasing ingredients needed for your meals.
Also, purchasing produce that’s seasonal will help lower both your grocery bill and carbon footprint. Furthermore, buying fruit in bulk could save money when purchasing produce by the bag rather than individually.
2. Eat a healthy snack or meal before you go to the grocery store.
Healthy eating often comes at a higher price tag, but that doesn’t have to be true! With smart shopping and meal-planning strategies in place, you can enjoy a range of nutritious foods without breaking the bank.
Avoid shopping while hungry as this will increase your likelihood of making impulse purchases. Instead, it is wise to consume some sort of snack or meal prior to heading into the grocery store, in order to maintain focus on your list and reduce food waste. In addition, try shopping around the perimeter where whole food are situated in order to spend less money on processed products in the center aisles.
Try buying store and generic brands. They tend to be less costly than name brands while providing comparable nutrition. Furthermore, bring along your own reusable containers when visiting the grocery store to reduce packaging waste and save some cash!
Make sure you stock your pantry with non-perishable items, like canned beans, frozen fruit, oatmeal, peanut butter and whole grain pasta; they will last longer and be used in various meals throughout the week. Also try cutting back on empty calories by opting for water with lemon or lime for flavoring instead of soda beverages.
4. Buy non-perishable items.
Healthy eating doesn’t need to break your budget! By planning wisely when shopping and cooking at home, buying less popular cuts of meat, and prioritizing whole foods you can still nourish your body while keeping grocery bills under control.
Preserving non-perishable items in your pantry and fridge is one way to lower food bills, such as beans, canned tuna and fish, rice, quinoa pasta or whole grain bread in bulk can save money and store for long periods of time. Stockpiling this type of food also can help prepare you for power outage scenarios where getting fresh food may become more difficult.
Opting for whole foods rather than convenience foods is more cost-effective and nutritious, such as purchasing a block of cheese that can be cut yourself rather than pre-sliced cheese; or purchasing frozen lettuce so it can be washed and chopped at home rather than buying pre-made salad bags. Also consider keeping dried fruit like raisins and dates stored in airtight containers as an economical and healthier alternative snack alternative to candy bars; broth-based soups from the freezer section instead of canned cream soups can provide more cost-cutting nutrition!
5. Shop at discount stores.
Healthy eating often carries with it an impression of costliness. But you don’t need to let this put you off: with proper planning, discount stores, and purchasing non-perishable items you can eat nutritious meals on a budget.
Reduce costs by eliminating junk food from your diet – such as soda, cookies, crackers and other prepackaged items high in sodium and empty calories – in favor of whole food options like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins that provide affordable nourishment at lower costs.
Salvage or discount grocery stores frequently sell brand name products at significantly reduced retail prices, and can often provide coupons and special offers via mailing lists. Many such stores do not accept credit cards to reduce processing fees that would otherwise be passed along to consumers.
Warehouse or club stores like Costco often provide healthy items at great prices, including bulk-sized staples that can be used multiple times throughout the week. Other sources for nutritious, unprocessed food are local farmer’s markets or online retailers like Thrive Market in the U.S. To minimize food waste, take an inventory of your kitchen before shopping, cook only what is needed, store leftovers properly or freeze as soon as they become leftover.
6. Cut down on empty calories.
For optimal health and fitness, eating a diet rich in whole foods can help ensure weight control and other medical issues don’t arise. Consuming too many empty calories from sources like solid fats and added sugars could contribute to weight gain or worsen existing conditions.
To reduce your intake of empty calories, be sure to read nutrition facts on food labels. Focus on finding foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and added sugars while also trying to limit snacking and forgoing soda consumption.
Foods rich in essential nutrients don’t need to cost an arm and a leg; many nutritious options such as lean meats, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains are relatively cost-effective options that you can add into your diet without breaking the bank. By shopping smart and avoiding processed products when grocery shopping, you’ll get maximum bang for your buck when grocery shopping.
Planning meals and snacks for the week ahead will help keep you on track with your goals and budget, while making cooking more fun! For instance, making one batch of chili can serve dinner one night as well as lunch the following day for minimal costs and dishwashing! Planning ahead could save money, energy, and dishwashing effort – while creating great memories.
7. Avoid processed desserts.
People often assume healthy eating can be expensive, but that doesn’t have to be true. By selecting whole foods over junk food and keeping costs under control without compromising nutrition, healthy living can fit within any budget without sacrificing its benefits.
Eating a nutritious diet can improve your overall wellbeing and lower your risks of chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Furthermore, planning healthy meal strategies will save you money in the long run by decreasing food waste and unnecessary spending.
Processed desserts tend to be high in both sugar and fat, making them less than ideal for maintaining a healthy diet. But enjoying dessert on occasion does not need to compromise your goals, particularly when prepared using more natural ingredients such as whole grain flour instead of refined, baking your own cakes with whole grain ingredients, or creating fruit popsicles using 100% pureed juice as ingredients.
Prior to heading out to the grocery store, have a nutritious snack or meal and snack on healthy food in order to prevent impulse buying. Aim for shopping along the perimeter where most fresh fruits and vegetables can be found; store- and generic-brand items often cost less.