Hi guys! Today I am going to be sharing my favorite tips for shopping and eating healthy when you are on a budget. I think this is an especially important topic because a lot of us don’t want to spend lots of money on food, so we resort to the unhealthy, cheap option (fast food). In the long run however, this ends up being more costly because cheaply made processed food high in trans fats and sugars contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, which puts billions of people in the hospital daily. It is possible to eat healthy, and still maintain a budget. Remember, that the most important thing you can invest in is your health, so never take that for granted.
Here are my top tips for saving money while still eating well:
Take advantage of Farmer’s Markets.
Farmers Markets are my favorite place to buy fresh produce, especially during the summertime. There is always a wide selection of delicious fruits and vegetables that are grown without pesticides or fertilizers. Since the produce is so fresh and local, you never have to worry about chemicals or unnecessary packaging. It’s always better to get produce locally and in season because not only is it better for the environment by reducing unnecessary shipping, plastic packaging, etc, but it is also better for your health. In addition, shopping this way more affordable. Here is a helpful guide for seasonal shopping: *Fall: Beets, Brussels Sprouts. Cranberries, Persimmons, Pomegranates, Pumpkins, Squash, Sweet Potatoes *Winter: Cabbage, Onions, Winter Squash, Potatoes, Onions, Parsnips, Carrots *Summer: Apricots, Plums, Cherries, Blackberries, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Raspberries, Apricots, Bell peppers *Spring: Broccoli, Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Oranges, Peas, Pineapple, Snowpeas, Spinach, Strawberries, Watercress
Buy in Bulk.
If you buy more expensive items in bulk, they will last for longer and therefore save you money long-term. Some items are incredibly cheap bought in bulk, such as: *Rice: Rice is a good carbohydrate source that can be added to any meal for extra energy. *Potatoes: I recommend organic potatoes, and sweet potatoes/yams if possible (more nutrition and antioxidants), but white potatoes are fine and also provide a healthy dose of minerals and carbohydrates.*Coconut Oil: I get a huge tub of Coconut oil from Amazon, and it lasts me for months. Coconut oil can be expensive to buy in small jars, so it is much cheaper this way. I use coconut oil for cooking, baking recipes, and blending into coffee.*Nuts/Seeds: If you go to the bulk section at Whole Foods, you can fill up your own tub of your favorite nuts/seeds, and blend your own peanut or almond butter. *Canned Goods: Canned goods often go on sale on grocery stores (such as buy 5 for 5$ etc), so stocking up on them is a good idea. Canned tuna, salmon, or sardines are healthy sources of protein that are cheap and easy to keep on hand. Canned tomatoes, pasta sauces, and other items are very inexpensive and can be the foundation for cooking a healthy, delicious meal.
I guarantee meal prepping will save you money, and also make your life easier. Choose a day when you don’t have much to do (for most people this is Sunday or Saturday) and dedicate at least an hour to meal prep your food. Once you make this a routine, it will become a habit, and you’ll actually start to enjoy it and not dread it. Play some music in your kitchen as you do this to make it more fun and relaxing. Do it at a time when no one else is in the house so you won’t be interrupted. I have a separate blogpost about my favorite things to meal prep for the week, but some quick ideas are meal prepping side dishes such as rice, vegetables, or potatoes. Store them in glass containers, not plastic. Wash and cut up tons of veggies (cucumbers, peppers, onions) to have on hand because if they are already chopped up, you will be more likely to eat them. Meal prep your meats as well so that you can throw together dinner quickly, which is so nice when you’re very tired from work.
Frozen foods and cheap proteins.
Frozen fruits and veggies are not bad fruits and veggies. They are less expensive than buying fresh, and have almost the same nutrient content. Frozen vegetables and fruits are a thousand times better than no vegetables or and fruits. You can buy giant bags of frozen veggies for very cheap at all grocery stores. Frozen vegetables have tons of uses. You can heat them up quickly for a side dish, roast them, add them to a soup or stir fry, or even blend them into smoothies (cauliflower is the best for this). In addition, gravitate towards cheaper proteins. Sirloin steak is obviously going to cost you, whereas protein option such as whole eggs, canned fish, and protein powder are much less.
Don’t eat out very often.
Eating out at nice restaurants multiple times a week adds up quickly, and can often be a hidden cause behind not having enough money to spend on high quality food. Try to cook at home more often and use ingredients that are already on hand. If you are struggling to figure out what to make, google recipe ideas with the ingredients you already have. Pinterest, for example, has millions of ideas that have been tried and tested. When you do prepare a meal, make extras so that there will be leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.
I hope these tips were helpful to you for your next food shopping trip. Remember to go into the grocery store with a plan. Get exactly what you need and get out. It helps to write down a list before going, as this helps you avoid impulse buys that add up quickly. Fast food is not any more cheap than using the methods I listed above, so make the smart decision for your health.