Feel like healthy food is too expensive?
Frustrated at how cheap junk food is?
I totally get you.
How I wish fresh organic fruit and vegetables were the cheapest things in the supermarket.
But they aren’t.
That doesn’t mean however that you can’t actually eat lots of healthy nutritious food on a budget. In fact in some cases depending on how much you spend eating out you might actually save money switching your diet to more whole foods based meals. And your body is going to thank you a thousand times over (think less money on medical bills in the future).
In fact if you went to Burger King in New York State and bought one large whopper meal and two junior whopper meals it would cost you $23.56. However the following from Walmart will only cost you $15.45 and will still be a meal for your family:
- 1lb minced beef – $2.98
- 16 ounces cashews – $4.18
- 1lb strawberries – $1.67
- 10lbs potatoes – $2.97
- 1lb frozen mixed veggies – $0.98
- 1 bunch of broccoli – $1.58
- 1lb bag of dry pinto beans – $1.09
Also a study run by the Harvard School of Public Health, found that the healthiest diets actually cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets. $1.50 a day for significantly better health outcomes including reducing chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Another study published by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine found that diets based primarily on convenience food sources, such as fast food, were more expensive than well-planned diets with foods acquired from supermarket chains.
So have I convinced you that healthy eating is possible no matter what your budget?
Well, since I have clients ask me all the time about how to fit healthy eating into their budget here are my top tips to help you out!
Healthy Eating On A Budget
Here are my top tips to making sure you are looking after yourself with delicious, healthy food that fuels you without breaking the bank account!
1. First things first – create a game plan.
Start by sitting down and planning your meals for the week. Sound too hard? I know I know I find a lot of clients resist the idea of meal planning in the beginning but grow to LOVE it as they discover how much time it creates and how much easier it becomes to eat healthy food. And it saves money! According to a 2016 Guardian report, roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away wasting $160 billion annually.
Ever end up throwing out veggies that go bad before you eat them? Meal planning totally changes that!
Need some ideas or want a meal planning template to get you started? Let me know in the comments below.
Different types of meal planning works for different people so experiment with what works for you. Maybe it is planning a month in advance and freezing meals or doing two weekly stops at the grocery store. Bottom line: it should be enjoyable and effective! I want you to move away from feeling like cooking and meal planning is something you ‘have to do’. Shift your mindset and let it be fun and creative. Yup, it’s a choice, one we make each time we think about our daily tasks. Choose to shift it to the positive!
Also select meals with recipes that have the same ingredients. That way, you can buy things in bulk. Also plan out all your meals so breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
2. Do Your Research
Your nearest grocery store may not just be your only option to get the ingredients you need for your meals and snacks. You could have overlooked a nearby farmer’s market. Try asking your friend or your neighbor where you can buy fresh produce. Maybe they know a great place you haven’t found yet.
Check for deals, sales or coupons from newspapers or flyers as part of your research. And if you regularly shop in that grocery store, try asking if they have loyalty discount shopping cards that they can offer.
3. Make a Grocery List and Stick To It.
Now it’s time to shop. But before leaving the house, make it a point to create a list of things that you need to buy and how much of those ingredients you need for your meals. Resist the urge to buy things that aren’t on the list on impulse. And when you shop, stay within the perimeter of the store as most processed foods and unhealthy items are in the center aisles.
A Tip: One way that you can resist impulse buying is by going to the grocery store with a full stomach. Doing your grocery shopping while hungry may see you end up with a shopping trolley full of items you don’t need. So if you’re hungry, try grabbing a healthy snack first.
4. Buy Foods In Bulk Or In Season
You often get a discounted rate when you buy things in bulk. This is where good meal planning can play an important role. Building your meal plan around ingredients which you can buy in bulk or around the ingredients that are in season could save you a lot as they tend to be less expensive.
Online stores such as Amazon and Thrive Market also have great deals on food items especially if you buy in bulk and freeze what you don’t use for another week. And if you end up buying more than you needed, you can always freeze the rest of it or include them into your next week’s meal plan.
5. Consider buying frozen fruits or vegetables.
Although fresh tends to taste better frozen veggies can sometimes be a cheaper and more convenient way to get more veggies in your diet. Kale, cabbage, broccoli and spinach are all examples of vegetables that are nutritionally dense whether they may be frozen or fresh.
6. Cut Down On Meat
Meat can be expensive and cutting down your consumption of meat can mean savings. The good news is that there are other other sources of protein that are less expensive than meat and easier to prepare. You can go for beans, legumes and whole grains like quinoa. Try implementing a Meatless Monday or another meatless day once a week. You won’t just be saving money but you will be filling up on yummy plant based sources of protein and helping the environment.
Also get yourself a slow cooker as these are awesome for making cheaper cuts of meat still taste delicious and is an easy way to make stews and cook beans and lentils.
7. Cook in Big Batches And Reuse Your Leftovers
Cooking your meals in big batches and storing them in portions can save you time and money. And it provides you with a healthy option when things inevitably get too busy with work, school or home. All you have to do is heat the food that you cooked a few days in advance.
Cooking your food in big batches also doesn’t mean that you eat the same thing several times a week. That can get pretty tiring. Try and experiment with your leftovers. You can make stews, burritos, stir-fries or wraps from for the next day.
8. Organize Your Fridge
If you will be cooking in batches, invest on good quality glass food storage containers. Get a few of different sizes so you can maximize the spaces on your fridge. Make sure that you only use those containers and bags that are freezer-safe should you be utilizing the freezer. Organize everything so they are labeled clearly with a date so you can keep track of what you have and prevent food waste.
9. Grow Your Own Fruits, Vegetables or Herbs
This one is seriously awesome and something I have to start implementing myself now that I am in one spot for a little while. Utilize the small spaces in your own backyard or you can use small pots if space is an issue. The seeds are relatively cheap and in no time you will have your own herbs or other veggies at your disposal. This will mean less ingredients to buy at the store and bigger savings for you.
Can’t grow your own? Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). These allow city residents to have direct access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally by regional farmers. They are usually a much cheaper way to get high quality produce delivered to a convenient drop-off location in your neighborhood.
You can still eat healthy and stay within your budget and indeed there are many ways to do that. With the right planning, execution and the right mindset, all these can be done. The best part is, you get to reap the benefits for taking the path to a healthy lifestyle. At the end of the day, everything will be all worth it.
To your health
P.S. If you are struggling to lose weight or meet the health goals you want despite doing all “the right things” click below on my new free quiz to find out whats holding you back and what you can do about it. It may not be what you think 🙂