Eating healthy is a lifestyle change that benefits your mental and physical health in many ways. Unfortunately, rising food prices lead people to think that it is hard to eat healthy if you are on a tight budget.
You really can’t put a price on good health, but eating healthy does not mean you need to spend a fortune.
Regardless of whether you are living alone or raising a family, enjoying healthy foods on the cheap is possible.
The key factor here is revising your shopping habits to limit unnecessary spending and make smart choices on healthier options. Also, eating well on a cheap budget will not take away the pleasure of eating, which means satisfaction is guaranteed.
Here are the top 10 tips to eat healthy for cheap when you’re broke.
1. Plan Ahead
When it comes to saving money at the grocery store, planning is essential. This means you must be aware of your budget as well as the things you need in your kitchen.
Take half an hour out of your weekend to plan your meals for the upcoming week. Then, make a grocery list of what you need.
Check your pantry as well as refrigerator. Write down the items that you need the most. Also, note things that you can purchase if your budget allows.
Once you’ve planned your meals and made your grocery list, stick to it. This way you won’t end up throwing away a lot of what you buy.
2. Avoid Eating Out
Eating out is very expensive and can easily make a hole in your pocketbook, especially if done regularly.
In addition, restaurant foods are rich in oil, salt and sugar as well as chemicals that can be harmful to your health and make you ill. This will just add more to your medical bills.
The solution is to pack your lunch, snacks, drinks and other meals to take to work. This will save you money as well as aid in making healthy food choices.
Prepare your meals and snacks in bulk during the weekend and use them throughout the week. For instance, you can boil a few batches of eggs and use them to make tasty sandwiches for breakfast or lunch. Another option is to pack baked vegetables or whole fruits for lunch.
With just a little planning and time management, preparing your food at home is fun and healthy, too.
3. Prepare Your Own Food
Just one visit to a popular pizza or burger joint will cost you more than the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables that could carry you through a whole week.
To eat healthy for cheap, start cooking all your meals at home. There are many benefits of cooking your own meals. First of all, it will be much cheaper than eating out. You can even use up the leftovers if you plan your meals with same vegetables or grains, or ingredients that are likely to go bad after a few days. Secondly, you can make healthy food choices to improve your health.
Thirdly, cooking is an art and you can experiment a lot.
In fact, you can combine a few recipes to come up with interesting dishes like baked potatoes or sweet potatoes topped with vegetables, pasta with roasted vegetables, fried rice with leftover cooked rice, scrambles egg and leftover meat or veggies, cut-up sausages and vegetable kebabs, or vegetarian meatballs with pureed, cook lentils. You can even enjoy cooking with your family or friends to make it more pleasurable.
Cooking is not rocket science and anyone can learn it from scratch. You can cook for the day upon waking up or for the next day before going to bed. Just 30 to 40 minutes out of your busy schedule is enough to prepare the meals for a day.
You can even make mealtimes a social experience by inviting friends or relatives to your home on weekends. Social gatherings play a big role in relieving stress and boosting your mood.
4. Buy Produce in Season
Seasonal fruits and vegetables not only taste better but also cost less. This is because in-season products are in abundance in the market and free from preservatives, meaning cheaper prices and better taste and health. Hence, it is best to buy seasonal produce as much as possible.
Try to buy in-season produce by the bag rather than buying by the piece. You can store the produce in the refrigerator and incorporate them into your cooking as needed.
Do not be tempted to buy off-season products that you will find stocked in grocery stores. Such products do not come cheap.
You can even join a community-supported agriculture group to get local, seasonal products delivered directly from a farmer to your doorstep.
5. Buy Nonperishable Items in Bulk
While you can’t buy fruits and vegetables in bulk, you can surely save money by buying nonperishable food items like grains, beans and canned proteins, such as canned salmon, tuna, chicken, kidney beans and pinto beans in bulk.
So, whenever you find nonperishable items on sale, buy in bulk and stock up your kitchen for several months. Because you get the products on sale, it will cost you less in the long run.
Whole grains like brown rice, millet, barley and oats as well as beans, lentils, some nuts and dried fruit have a longer shelf life if you store them in airtight containers. Plus, these products are good for your health and even tasty to eat. Peanut butter is another tasty and healthy option to stock up on.
All these products can be used in a variety of healthy meals, and you do not have to worry much about what to cook until the next sale is on.
6. Buy Cheap Cuts of Meat
Fresh meat can be quite expensive, but this does not mean you cannot afford it on a limited budget. There are several cuts of meat, such as braising steak, shin or shoulders, that are inexpensive because they take a little more time to cook.
Buy inexpensive cuts of meat in bulk and store them in the freezer to use as needed. Keep an eye out for inexpensive cuts of meat from organic or grass-fed sources.
When cooking cheap cuts of meat, use your slow cooker so that the meat becomes tender and delicious. Then, you can use the cooked meat to make stews, soups and one-pot meals. The bones can be used to make a satisfying bone broth.