By Cara Strong, MCHC January 11, 2024
As the New Year begins, many of us may want to eat healthier. However, the thought of eating healthy being more expensive than other options can be overwhelming. The GOOD NEWS is that you don’t have to break the bank to eat well! By following 4 tips to help you eat healthy on a budget, you can make healthy eating more affordable and fit it into a busy schedule. Remember, investing in your health is one of the BEST decisions you can make for yourself!
Here are four tips to get you started:
1. Make meal planning a priority.
Yes, you probably know this, and it takes discipline. Is it worth it? YES! Start by taking inventory of what you have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Look at your local grocery store ad to see what is on sale. Pull out your favorite healthy recipes.
Next, plan your meals around the sales and what you already have. Include a quick, healthy dinner and plan snacks for those busy days and evenings. Include leftovers in your plan. The result will be saving more money and less food waste.
2. Make a grocery list based on your menu plan, and STICK TO IT!
Start by adding any ingredients you don’t have on hand to complete your meals and items you may run out of during the week. To make your trip more efficient, organize your list by aisle or store section so you can quickly find what you need and avoid wandering around the store, which increases your likelihood of impulse buying.
Commit to stick to your list. Remind yourself that if an item isn’t on your list, don’t put it in your cart! However, if you realize you forgot to add an essential ingredient to your list, it’s ok to go back and grab it.
3. Cook at home.
Yes, cook at home. That can be a daunting task, especially with a busy schedule. Grabbing a meal deal may be a quick solution to busy evenings, but there are better options in the long run. One way to combat this is to invest some time on the weekends to prep your meals for the week. Cut up your veggies in advance and make some healthy snacks you can carry with you. This will save you time during the week and help you stick to your healthy eating plan; plus, cooking at home allows you to have leftovers for the next day, which is a great time saver and can help save money. Unlike fast food meal deals, you might get two meals out of one home-cooked one.
4. Buy in bulk.
Be careful with this one. Purchase items you can freeze or that have a longer shelf life. Otherwise, you may encounter some science projects in your refrigerator, and that, of course, doesn’t help your budget.
For example, dried beans are a great option as they don’t contain added preservatives or salt like canned beans do. Don’t let the long cooking time discourage adding these to your pantry. Utilize your slow cooker while you are at work to cook them; voila, you have beans ready for your meals.
Additionally, buying frozen fruits and vegetables is a great way to add more nutrients to your diet and reduce food waste. They are the next best nutritional option to buying fresh produce, and they can be stored in your freezer, reducing food waste.
By adapting these 4 tips to help you eat on a budget, and with some determination, it’s possible to maintain a healthy diet, even on a tight budget. In the long run, the health benefits we receive from replacing processed, unhealthy foods with fresh and colorful produce outweigh the additional costs of eating healthier. Making healthier choices can potentially lower out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Now, that sounds like a win-win to me.
© Copyright 2024, Cara Strong, MCHC