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Wondering How To Eat Healthy On A Budget? Here Are Our Tips!
If you want to know how to eat healthy on a budget, you have come to the right place. We are big into eating healthy – and making sure that we stick to our budget each month. Now, when we say “eat healthy” all that we man is that we are conscious of what we put into our bodies. We eat things in moderation and try to have lots of fresh/raw fruit and vegetables.
If you are trying to eat healthy on a budget with the intention to also lose weight, a diet plan that includes lots of fruit and vegetables is a great place to start. That said, it’s only one part – cutting down on unhealthy and processes food is important.. but we will get to that in this post!
So, from making grocery lists to having go-to recipes that we love, eating healthy on a budget (and often with a busy schedule) it definitely not impossible. This goes for whether you are cooking for one or a whole family!
One of the best things you can do when trying to eat healthy on a budget is to create a meal plan every week. This might sound like a lot of work – but trust us, it is worth it!
What we like to do is to have a few “go-to” meals that we include in our meal plans regularly. In addition to this, we also like to try at least one new meal a week.
We’ll write an article about meal planning successfully soon – but one tip we have for you is to write down what you are eating regularly anyway. Then browse your cookbooks, Pinterest, or any other place your get inspiration for recipes. Then, be sure to write down/save the ones you’re dying to try!
We’ve found that when we have a “go-to” list with recipe ideas, it is a lot easier to create a meal plan for the upcoming week. Also, make sure to include – at least some – snacks in your meal plan as well. People often time forget about snacks when it comes to meal planning and then go over their budget because of it!
Read More – How To Eat Healthy When You Have No Time
Make A Grocery List
This point is clearly related to the first tip on our list. When you know what you are going to cook/eat for the upcoming week you can go grocery shopping with the intent of only buying the things that you’ll need.
This is a great method to avoid buying things that you won’t use. In the worst case scenario, these extra grocery items might even go bad and then you’d have to throw them out. This is a huge waste of money. When you’re on a budget already, avoiding food waste is a great way to make your budget go further!
The important part here is to make the grocery list at the same time as you are meal planning. Then, bring the list to the store and actually follow it! If you make a list and then don’t stick to it, there is really no point.
Of course, it might always be the case that you forgot to write down a very important item or that there is a treat on sale that you just can’t resist – but these cases should be exceptions, not the norm.
Avoid Buying Pre-Made Foods (Sauces, Dips, etc.)
We’ve mentioned this point in our frugal living tips article, but it is just so relevant! This is especially true when it comes to saving money on food – so we needed to cover it in this article, too.
If you want to eat healthy on a budget, then avoid buying pre-made sauces, salad dressings, dips, etc. Often times, store bought items are not actually that healthy and can include quite a bit of sugar. Furthermore, it is really not that difficult and/or time consuming to make these things at home from scratch once you know how.
For example, before knowing Lisa, Bruce always bought pre-made pasta sauce since it was easy. Quite frankly, he didn’t know that he could easily make pasta sauce from scratch. Every jar he bought set him back at least a couple of dollars, if not more.
Now when we make pasta sauce, we simply use boiled water, a vegetable stock cube, crushed tomatoes/tomato paste, and a few spices. This is significantly cheaper to make, contains less sugar than lots of store-bought tomato pastes and doesn’t take long to make at all!
The same is true for many other items, as well. You can easily make a salad dressing out of oil, vinegar, and some spices – or go for a yogurt-based dressing instead. Just look up a few easy recipes, give them a try, and you’ll see what we mean! Maybe we’ll write an article about some of these soon.
Read More – 27 Healthy Meal Ideas On A Budget
Go For Plant-Based Protein Over Meat
As you might know, buying meat can actually be quite expensive – especially if you are trying to eat healthy and want to buy meat that is good quality. That’s why we recommend that you reduce the amount of meat you eat and consume other sources of protein instead.
Lots of people don’t actually know that there are some great plant-based sources of protein that are often more affordable that meat. For example, we like to eat beans, chickpeas, or legumes regularly throughout the week while limiting our meat consumption to once a week.
While Lisa was in university, she actually didn’t eat any meat at all – in part because she didn’t want to eat it but also because not eating it helped her save a lot of money when it came to buying groceries.
Another tip that we have for you is to buy your beans and chickpeas in the dried version, if you can. Yes, we know that the canned version can be super convenient (and you can always keep an “emergency can” at home). However, soaking beans and chickpeas beforehand and then cooking them is really not that much of a hassle – and it can save you quite a bit of money in the long run.
Don’t Buy Junk Food (esp. Snacks)
When you are trying to eat healthily, avoid buying junk food! This is true even more so when you are trying to eat healthy on a budget. Junk food – especially chips, sweets,
It might be a little difficult to give up these foods, but by not buying them you’re already making it less likely to give in. Instead of junk food, get other snacks such as nuts, popcorn, fresh fruit and cook from home – preferably from scratch. This brings us to the next point…
Read More – Healthy Snacks You Can Make In A Hurry
Cook At Home
Depending on where you live, it can sometimes already be difficult to find healthy food when eating out. Trying to accomplish this on a budget can be an actual challenge.
Instead of trying to make it work somehow, we would recommend that you try to make your meals at home and limit eating out to (very) special occasions.
This is what we are doing now. Just the other day, we actually went out to eat sushi. We were able to do this without breaking our food budget because we cook at home pretty much every other meal during the month.
It’s convenient that we work from home right now so we don’t have the temptation to get lunch out while at work. However, we have worked in office settings before and have brought our lunch to work.
We found that it is easier if we brought a meal that we actually enjoyed and were looking forward to eating. In addition to that, bringing lunch to work can also be easier if you can use leftover from another meal instead of having to cook something from scratch.
Cook Enough To Have Leftovers
This tip is very closely related to the last point. We know that cooking at home all the time can get quite boring/exhausting – we’ve been there. One way to solve this is to cook more than you’ll eat for one specific meal. This way you have leftovers for the next day and you won’t have to cook again.
Of course this only works if you actually eat the leftovers. Otherwise, you would just be cooking a bigger amount of food of which some would end up in the trash. That would not be smart – especially if you are trying to eat healthy on a budget!
Alternatively, you could also try meal prepping. This generally involves preparing your meals for half a week or a week at once so you don’t have to spend as much time in the kitchen over the next few days. We’ve already mentioned it at the beginning of the post.
Read More – Easy & Delicious Bean Zucchini Fritters
Don’t Buy Pre-Cut Produce
Maybe you’ve heard this tip before but don’t buy pre-cut fruit and vegetables if you are trying to eat healthy on a budget. Often times these products are marked up compared to the uncut version. Yes, it can be convenient – but you’re trying to stick to a budget, aren’t you?
Cutting up your own fruit and veggies really doesn’t take that long. And if you think it takes ages, maybe you just haven’t found a smarter way to cut them up yet? There are lots of great cutting hacks out there!
What we like to do sometimes is to buy uncut vegetables such as carrots and then cut some up when we get home. This way we have pre-cut snacks when we get hungry but we don’t have to pay extra for getting the pre-cut ones at the store!
Don’t Buy Brand Names If You Don’t Have To
When trying to eat healthy on a budget, it can be very helpful if you are not loyal to a certain brand. Often times, it can save you a lot of money if you buy the generic brand instead. Sometimes these generic brands are even produced by the same company as the brand names so it’s worth looking into that if you’re curious!
We usually aren’t picky about the brand when it comes to staples such as rice, pasta, frozen vegetables, etc. Instead, we care more about the nutritional value and make sure that it doesn’t include any additives that we don’t want in our food.
We’re not saying that you should always buy the cheapest option. However, if you can not see a difference in quality between the generic brand and the brand name – other than the brand name itself – then is there really a need to buy the brand version just because of a logo?
Buy In Bulk (If It Makes Sense)
There is a misconception out there that buying in bulk is always cheaper. You should be careful with that since it is not always the case. It only really makes sense to buy in bulk if you use up the whole product.
If you paid less at the bulk store than you would have at the normal grocery store (comparatively) and then throw out half of it since it has gone bad, you don’t really save anything.
We believe that bulk stores can be great for non-perishable items that you go through a lot such as rice or dried beans. However, when it comes to perishable items and especially fresh produce you should very carefully think about whether you will actually need and consume all of it.
As we have mentioned in another article, unfortunately we don’t have any bulk stores close to where we live right now. Otherwise, we would probably get our rice, bulgur, beans, and lentils at a bulk store (depending on the sizes that would be available).
Buy Frozen Vegetables/Fruit
Another great tip for eating healthy on a budget is to buy frozen vegetables. Not only can the frozen version actually sometimes be cheaper than the fresh version, but frozen vegetables are also not going to go bad.
We only have a tiny fridge right now but in our old place we always used to stock up on frozen vegetables such as mixed veggies,
Simplify Your Meals
Often times it is these special, fancy ingredients that you only need for one meal and
It has taken us a while to get there but now we love eating very simple meals that sometimes just include some steamed/fried vegetables, tofu, or another source of protein and then just bulgur or another grain.
This is not only are these super quick meals to prepare, but it also makes it easy to eat healthy on a budget since you literally won’t have to buy as many ingredients. You might think that meals like this are boring, but you can always give it a try and then modify them until you are happy – and can easily stick to your budget.
Eat More Inexpensive Fruits & Vegetables
Some fruits and vegetables can be quite a bit more expensive than others – especially if they are a tropical fruit or a hyped-up superfood. Our point here is, you don’t need to spend a ton of money on fruits and vegetables just to eat healthy.
We usually always buy carrots, bell peppers, apples, and bananas since they are usually quite affordable. Other than these staple items we also try to buy produce that is in season as they are usually more affordable during that time.
We are very lucky that we have a great farmers’ market where we live currently. We usually go every week or every two weeks and stock up on fruit and veggies there.
Not only can we find a lot of in-season produce there, but it is usually also a bit cheaper than if we were to buy it at the grocery store. Depending on where you live, maybe you have a similar option in your city/neighborhood!
Read More – Why We Regularly Eat A Salad For Lunch
Use Coupons/ Cash Back Rewards
If you want to stretch your budget even further, then you can always use coupons! Admittedly, we are not experts when it comes to coupons – especially since they aren’t that common where we live right now.
However, there are lots of people who have significant savings by using coupons or other cash back rewards such as Ibotta.
And there you have it – our tips for how to eat healthy on a budget! In the end, if we had to boil these points down – it takes a bit of effort to eat well and be well. But, it’s not impossible – and after a while you get into new routines and feel great and you’ll wonder how you ever lived the way you did. Basically don’t be lazy and don’t make excuses.
As always, Stay Curious,
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