If you are one of those people that want to eat healthier but are not sure how to do so because you’re on a budget, try our top tips on how to eat healthy without breaking the bank.
Planning is the most important part of eating healthily on a budget. Take the time to write out a grocery list of all the things that you need and stick to it. This will lessen the temptation to put things that look tasty but you don’t really need in your trolley. Knowing what meals you are going to prepare is also important. Use the internet to find recipes that look good while still being healthy. You’d be amazed what you can find.
It is best to have a regular shopping pattern – once a week, or once a fortnight for example. It has been shown that going to pick up foods as you need them ends up more expensive than doing a regular shop where you stock up on all the things that you need.
Fresh and frozen foods can be the cornerstone of good nutrition – especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Look for specials on these. Where possible and practical, buy in larger units rather than smaller ones. A 3 kilo bag of potatoes for example will work out cheaper than buying potatoes at a per kilo price.
While it is best and cheapest to buy foods when they are in season, the most economical way to buy fruits and vegetables that are out of season is through frozen and canned foods. When choosing canned foods, opt for those that have been packed in water or in 100 percent natural juice.
While it is tempting to buy pre-cut fresh foods in order to save time, they are significantly more expensive. Buy the whole foods and cut them up yourself. If you cut too much, put the leftovers in a plastic bag and freeze it for later use.
To save even more money, try growing your own veggies at home. It is easy and you can be assured of the healthiness of your own produce.
Generic brands are often as good as name brands and have exactly the same amount of nutrition but you will save yourself a lot of money. Usually, all you will need is a little extra time in the supermarket. Look on the highest and lowest shelves to find generic brands as supermarkets deliberately place their highest priced goods at eye level.
Buying in bulk may cost more initially but in the long run you can save a lot of money. Buy meat, milk, and bread in bulk, as you can freeze it and thaw it when needed. Non perishable items are ideal for purchasing in bulk – think pasta, rice, lentils, canned foods, and so on. Just ensure that you have the storage space before you buy in bulk, otherwise you may end up wasting product. Another handy tip is to ensure that you only buy in bulk what you actually need and will use. There is no point in buying a lot of something because it is a bargain if it is just going to sit in the pantry and not get eaten.
If you are buying drinks, it makes sense to buy these in bulk. Always buy them in the larger bottle, as the small individual bottles cost more because you are paying for all the extra packaging.
When you are cooking, make a double batch of food and freeze the remaining portion. This will make a quick and easy meal when you are low on time as you simply have to defrost and heat it in the microwave.
Many people slip up when they get home and find that there’s little food in the house so they go out or order takeaway. This can be avoided by having a well stocked pantry. Items that should always be in your pantry and fridge include beans and lentils, brown rice, pasta, soups, meat and fish, and condiments.
Specials are a great way to grab healthy food on the cheap. The best bargains will ultimately come in the form of staples such as soups, pasta, rice, canned veggies, bread, and meat. These items have a long shelf life or they can be frozen.
Buy the items that are on sale but only if you are sure that they are going to be used and that you have a place to store them.
Limit how often you go out to eat, as you will find yourself spending money on foods that are high in fat, salt, and calories, and low in real nutrition. Make your own snacks to take to work or to school. Rather than buying the single size packets of snack foods, buy the larger packet and separate it into smaller sealable bags. Only allow yourself to buy one large packet of snacks per week, and opt for a healthier option such as mixed nuts or pretzels where practical.
The night before, or in the morning, prepare your lunch for work. This could be leftovers from dinner, a healthy salad, some pasta, etc. Taking your lunch to work means that you will not pop down to the local café to buy a healthy lunch that ends up costing a fortune.