Many people would choose convenience over anything else when it comes to meal preparation. But is it doing any justice to your health and wallet? Certainly not.
One reason behind this choice is the false belief that eating healthy is expensive. However, with some planning and savvy shopping techniques, you can enjoy nutritious and delicious meals on a budget.
You do not have to spend a fortune eating healthy meals. You just have to invest more time, dedication and effort in grocery shopping and meal preparation. Everything you put in will go for the good of your mind and physical health. And to motivate you more; it will go a long way in helping you put your finances in order.
Looking to eat healthy but on a budget? Read on In this post, we’ll explore 15 tips to help you eat healthy without emptying your wallet. From meal planning to embracing plant-based proteins, we’ve got you covered.
1. Plan Your Meals and Snacks
One of the most effective ways to eat healthy on a budget is by planning your meals and snacks. By creating a weekly meal plan, you can avoid impulse purchases and ensure you have all the necessary ingredients.
It will also reduce the daily effort needed to think about and select what to eat. This can be a tiresome thing to do daily, which often ends in ordering out.
Start by writing down a list of your favorite healthy recipes and build your meal plan around them.
Consider incorporating seasonal produce to save money and vary your meals.
Additionally, plan your snacks to avoid reaching for unhealthy and expensive options when hunger strikes.
2. Buy Whole Foods in Bulk
Buying whole foods in bulk is not only cost-effective but also a great way to have a variety of ingredients at your disposal. Staples such as rice, oats, beans, and nuts can be purchased in bulk and stored for extended periods. Look for stores that offer bulk bins, or consider joining a local food co-op to save even more.
Also, buying in bulk can control portion sizes and reduce packaging waste.
Just be careful and know what food not to buy in bulk. For instance, you want to avoid bulk buying foods with a short life span, such as flour, dairy products, oils, and baked goods. Buying them in bulk can end up in waste.
3. Cook Large Batches and Freeze Portions
Cooking large batches of meals and freezing individual portions is a fantastic way to save time and money.
Consider doubling the recipe and portioning it into freezer-safe containers when preparing meals. This way, you can have homemade healthy meals ready whenever needed. It also helps to prevent food waste since you can freeze excess ingredients before they spoil.
Cooking in batches is also known to be energy efficient; embrace it to cut gas or electricity usage costs.
4. Embrace Plant-based Proteins
Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet, but it doesn’t have to come from expensive cuts of meat. Incorporating more plant-based proteins into your meals is economical and good for your health and the environment.
Legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas are inexpensive protein sources and can be used in various dishes. Tofu, tempeh, and seitan are affordable alternatives to meat you can embrace in your money-saving and healthy-eating journey.
5. Shop at Local Farmers’ Markets
Shopping at local farmers’ markets can be a game-changer when it comes to eating healthy on a budget. Farmers’ markets often offer various fresh and seasonal produce at lower prices than grocery stores.
Not only will you support local farmers and reduce your carbon footprint, but you’ll also have access to high-quality ingredients that are bursting with flavor.
Find the days your local farmers market is open, and visit. It is not only a money-saving thing to do. It is a fun activity you can do with friends and family.
6. Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Frozen fruits and vegetables are excellent alternatives to fresh produce on a budget. They are often more affordable and can be just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. Frozen fruits are perfect for smoothies, desserts, or snacking, while frozen vegetables can be used in soups, stir-fries, and casseroles.
Plus, they have an extended shelf life, minimizing the chances of food waste. Buying them in bulk will save you money per unit price and reduce the number of times you need to go to the grocery stores.
7. Limit Dining Out and Takeout
The takeout and food delivery industry has been growing steadily in the U.S., driven partly by the rise of food delivery apps and online ordering platforms. Although dining out and ordering takeout can be convenient, it can drain your bank account. Limiting these expenses and dedicating more time to cooking at home can significantly impact your budget.
That way, you will save money and completely control your ingredients and portion sizes.
It can be difficult to let go of dining out and takeout, but it is completely doable. Start by preparing your weekly meals on weekends to have something always ready and deleting food delivery apps.
8. Prioritize Seasonal Produce
When eating healthy on a budget, prioritizing seasonal produce is a smart strategy.
Fruits and vegetables in season are usually more abundant, so prices are often lower. Additionally, the flavors and textures of seasonal produce are at their peak, making your meals even more delicious. Check out online resources or visit your local farmers’ market to find out what’s in season in your area, get them, and plan your meals around it.
Produce out of season may look juicy in grocery stores but will cost so much because of how far they have been transported, its scarcity, and how much has gone into keeping it fresh.
9. Create a Price Book for Grocery Shopping
Creating a price book for grocery shopping can be a valuable tool for finding the best deals on your favorite items. A price book is simply a list that tracks the prices of various groceries at different stores over a set period.
By recording prices and comparing them, you can identify when specific items are on sale, allowing you to stock up and save money in the long run. You can also notice the most affordable grocery stores and keep shopping from them over the pricier competitors.
10. Use Leftovers Creatively
An average American family of four was estimated to throw away around $1,500 worth of food each year.
Leftovers can often be seen as uninspiring, but you can transform them with some creativity into delicious new meals.
For instance, leftover roasted chicken can be finely chopped and used in salads or tacos. Also, cooked vegetables can be blended into a flavorful soup or added to scrambled eggs. Don’t let leftovers go to waste – see them as an opportunity to get inventive in the kitchen.
You may also want to bring leftover dinners as your lunch at work. It will save so much money not to buy lunches while at work.
11. Reduce Food Waste
It is estimated that approximately 30-40% of the food supply in the U.S. goes to waste. Minimizing food waste helps you save money and also keeps the environment cleaner. Be mindful of the ingredients you have on hand and plan your meals accordingly.
If you find yourself with excess fruits or vegetables, consider turning them into sauces, jams, or smoothies to be used before they go bad.
Use up all parts of vegetables, including stems and leaves, to minimize waste.
The best way to avoid food wastage is to avoid excess purchases of items you do not use frequently. If it happens, you are better off sharing with friends and neighbors to avoid food wastage.
12. Opt For Store-brand Items
When shopping on a budget, don’t overlook store-brand items. These products are often just as good as their branded counterparts but come at a fraction of the price. Look for store-brand staples such as pasta, canned goods, and condiments. You might be surprised by how much you can save without compromising quality.
A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) survey found that over 85% of consumers were satisfied with the quality of store-brand items they purchased.
Break your loyalty to that brand name that does nothing other than drain your wallet.
13. Prepare Homemade Snacks and Beverages
Store-bought snacks and beverages can quickly add up in terms of cost and unhealthy ingredients. You can control the ingredients and save money by preparing your beverages and snacks at home.
You can make a large batch of granola bars or energy balls and portion them out for convenient, healthy snacks throughout the week.
Also, consider brewing tea and coffee or making infused water to quench your thirst without breaking the bank.
14. Cook With Cheaper Cuts of Meat
If you still enjoy meat, consider cooking with cheaper cuts. While they may require longer cooking times or different techniques, cheaper cuts of meat can be just as tasty and tender when prepared correctly.
Opt for cuts such as chicken thighs, pork shoulder, or beef chuck, which are more budget-friendly. Slow cooking or marinating can help tenderize these cuts, resulting in flavorful and satisfying meals.
15. Experiment With Budget-friendly Grains and Legumes
Grains and legumes are affordable and packed with essential nutrients. Embrace less mainstream options such as quinoa, bulgur wheat, or barley, which can add variety to your diet without draining your pockets.
Similarly, explore different types of legumes, for example, black beans, lentils, or split peas, which are versatile and lend themselves well to a wide range of flavorful dishes.
You can prepare many different recipes from a single type of legume, such as lentils.
Additionally, if you have a problem repeating the same dish over and over, getting creative with these legumes will go a long way in helping you save your money. You can also easily repurpose their leftovers to create a whole different meal.
Affordable Ways To Eat Healthy
Eating healthy on a budget may seem complicated, but it is achievable. By incorporating these 15 tips into your routine, you can enjoy nutritious yet affordable meals that nourish your body and wallet.
Yes, it will take a little more effort, but it will be worth it for you and your loved ones in the long run. Start implementing these tips today, and be on your way to enjoying tasty, budget-friendly meals that will keep you feeling great!
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