5 tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget
Everyone wants to spend less money on food. Whether feeding a family of 5, cooking with a partner, or riding solo, food can take up a large portion of your income. Grocery bills can seem especially expensive when trying to eat healthily.
However, healthy eating can be affordable if done correctly. Many foods are both nutritious and extremely cheap. Some of the healthiest, low-cost foods include; Spinach, cabbage, onions, potatoes, carrots, apples, bananas, eggs, peanuts, sunflower seeds, lentils, dry beans, brown rice, canned fish and whole chickens. They aren't fancy, exotic, or packaged in a flashy package, but they are nutrient-rich whole foods that should be bought often to support your budget.
Additionally, using cost-effective strategies such as buying in bulk, meal planning, and proper food storage, can stretch a dollar even further. The following tips will help save money on food and promote healthier eating.
1. Make a Menu and Grocery List:
The best way to avoid overspending at the grocery store is to shop with a list. Impulse buys can lead to spending extra money on foods you weren't planning on buying. Additionally, as they are purchased with an underlying craving, they are usually less healthy. One day each week, pull up your favourite grocery store ad on their app or website. Make a note of sale items and build a menu of dishes around those items. Write down all other ingredients and pantry staples you will need and shop with your list. Stick to the list, avoid buying more than you will need. A little planning ahead can make healthy eating easier and eliminate food waste.
2. Say Goodbye to Breakfast Cereal:
On top of being loaded with sugar, refined flours, preservatives, and even added colours, breakfast cereal just isn't very filling. A big bowl of processed carbohydrates first thing in the morning can spike the bloodstream with a rush of sugar that results in a crash and hunger cravings long before lunch. Additionally, breakfast cereal is expensive per serving. Since it isn't filling, you end up spending more money on a snack later.
Instead, make a big batch of homemade oatmeal to enjoy through the week. Oats are loaded with fibre to keep you full. By putting you in control over what you add to your oats, you can keep sugar to a minimum and say goodbye to added colours, preservatives, and other additives. Spice up your oatmeal with nut butter, seeds, jam, spices, or fresh fruit.
3. Eat more Plant Protein:
Deli meats, red meat, fish, and poultry are expensive, particularly if you buy naturally raised, high-quality meats. Reduce the amount of meat you buy each week by switching in a few plant-based meals each week. Not only are meatless meals good for your budget, but they are also good for your health and the health of the planet.
Lentils, beans, and soy products like edamame or tempeh can be a protein-packed swap for some of your favourite recipes. For instance, try lentil stew, black bean tacos, or tempeh stir-fry over brown rice. You can also try halving the meat called for in a recipe and adding a legume instead. For instance, if you usually make beef chilli, swap half of the meat for an extra can of kidney beans.
4. Use Your Freezer:
When you find a good price on your favourite expensive foods (berries, salmon, nuts, meat, and poultry) simply freeze them for later. Buying to freeze is the best time to buy in bulk, as you know, the foods won't go off before they are eaten. If you have purchased more than you can use, freeze it before it goes bad! Frozen spinach can be added to smoothies or omelettes. Wash and chop other vegetables such as peppers, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and freeze for last-minute soups or stir-fries. Purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables saves you money and aids your nutrition.
5. Save on Produce:
Vegetables and fruit are expensive and can go off before they are used. The first thing to consider is to buy produce in season. Seasonal produce is more fresh, nutritious, and affordable due to high availability. Second, learn proper storage techniques to get the most life out of the food you purchase. Vegetables that are prone to wilting such as celery, asparagus, herbs, and lettuce should be stored in a high-humidity refrigerator drawer. Store fruits like bananas and pears away from others that you don't want to ripen too quickly or spoil easily (such as avocados or strawberries). You can also buy frozen as suggested above to ensure a long shelf life without missing out on nutrients!
Healthy eating doesn't have to be a financial burden. Focus on the cheap, healthy foods available at nearly every grocery store. Plan ahead, utilize food preservation methods such as freezing, and store produce in the correct location. Make the investment for your long-term health and rest assured that it won't destroy your budget!