Trying to Eat Healthy on a Budget? Try These Tips
Healthy eating and affordable eating don’t often enough go hand in hand. When $5 buys a fast food drive through meal or “family sized” entree, going the cheap route can be tempting. It feels like a deal compared to high-end organic produce that may be healthier but is often out of reach.
But you don’t have to be wealthy to eat healthy. There are plenty of ways to make smart choices that benefit your body without breaking the bank.
1. Cook your own food.
This goes beyond eating at home vs. at a restaurant. When you eat at home, favor meals that you cook from scratch over prepared foods that are often high in salt and low in nutrients. The more processed the food is, the more extra steps it takes to get that food on the shelf, and the more you are paying for those steps.
2. Stock your pantry.
Step 1 may seem pricey when you begin, but if you build a base of non-perishables you’ll be ready to cook delicious home-cooked meals without a long grocery list each time. Buy in bulk for cheaper prices (but not more than you’ll use). Prioritize healthy staples such as dried whole grains and legumes (brown rice, barley, lentils) and shelf-stable, heart-healthy proteins such as canned tuna and salmon. With these on hand, you can buy a smaller list of higher-priced fresh produce to create a well-balanced meal.
3. Expand your spice drawer.
Add one new spice to your spice drawer each week or each paycheck. You’ll pay only a few dollars at a time, but you’ll quickly build a collection of flavors that give you flexibility in the kitchen. Keeping healthy food exciting is key to making it work, and a versatile spice drawer ensures that your home-cooked food is even tastier than what you’d eat out.
4. Be strategic.
Plan ahead of time the meals you’ll be cooking for the week. Look at the perishables you have in the fridge, and plan around those. Extra carrots? Spare spinach? Excess onions? Don’t let them go to waste – build around them to minimize waste and your grocery costs.