Healthy Eating on a Budget
How to eat healthy without relying on expensive health food stores.
You know you should improve your diet, but "health foods" always seem to cost more.It is possible to have a nutritious diet on a reasonable budget? Must you shop at expensive health food stores to eat well?
Certainly not! Follow these simple tips below, and your budget-conscious ways may also lead to fewer medical bills and prescriptions. A healthy body is the best bargain of all.
Buy in bulk.
- Buy large portions, divide into individual servings and freeze. This works well for lean meats and poultry.
- Buy in bulk at chains like Sam's Club or Costco. They have whole-grain cereals, soups, sauces, pasta, meats, fruits and vegetables at much lower cost than regular markets.
- Many health food stores/co-ops have bulk sections where you can buy rice, beans, oatmeal, nuts and other grains for much less than prepackaged products.
- When available, buy bags of fruit instead of individual pieces by the pound.
- Avoid snack traps like 100-calorie packs. Make your own single-serving portions with mini snack bags.
Cook and store in bulk.
- Make dishes on the weekends that you can eat during the week, or freeze and use at a later date. A big bowl of bean soup or chili can be dinner as well as lunch for the next day or two.
- This saves on expensive frozen dinners or take-out food, trips to the cafeteria and last-minute detours to the drive-through window.
Manage the meat.
- Look for lean meat, poultry and fish on sale, and freeze for later use.
- Trade lean meats for other protein sources sometimes.
- Beans, tofu and eggs are excellent protein choices and good alternatives to pricier animal protein.
- Seasonal fruits and vegetables taste best and are often much less pricey than imported out-of-season varieties.
- Look for reduced produce in the supermarket. It is usually only a day or two old, but much less expensive.
- Visit local farmers and ethnic markets, where produce is often cheap and fresh.
- Go generic. Generic or store brands offer great savings and typically, are just as nutritious as their costlier counterparts.
- If you find your produce often goes bad, try frozen options. Look for products packed in their own juice, or made without salt or sugar.
- Stock up on low-cost staples, such as brown rice, barley, dried or canned beans and whole-wheat pasta. These are great for stretching meals at little cost. Add brown rice to a canned vegetable soup, or mix lean ground beef with rinsed canned beans and whole-wheat elbow noodles.
- Menu planning will help you reduce any waste of produce and other fresh foods.
- Research shows that shoppers without a list tend to buy more food, especially of the snacking variety!
- Don't go to the store hungry. Being hungry will weaken your resolve. You'll be more tempted to indulge in items that are unhealthy and more costly.
Limit junk food.
- Ice cream, chips, cookies and prepared frozen foods can add up to be the most expensive things in your cart.
- Trade the money you spend on junk for fresh avocados, luscious grape tomatoes and crunchy apples. All are delicious and totally natural.