4 Ways to Eat Healthy On a Budget
It can, at times, feel like eating healthy and eating cost-effectively are two completely separate things; if you want to eat cheap, your options are typically going to be something that’s not so great for your diet, right? While that might be the perception of how things work, there are actually a number of ways that you can eat healthy, nutritious meals without breaking the bank. So, what are they? Let’s take a look.
- Replace Munchies With Fruits, Veggies, and NutsIt’s easy to fall into the trap of eating sodium-filled chips or crackers as a snack during a busy or stressful day, but the reality is that unhealthy snacks are created with the intention of making your body want more; in other words, these kinds of snacks contain very little nutritional value, and ultimately do very little to actually reduce your hunger. This means you’ll be buying more and more of an unhealthy option without ever really getting an effective or energy-providing snacking experience; according to the mayo clinic fruits and veggies, on the other hand, provide energy and a feeling of “fullness”, because of the sugar in fruits and the fiber and carbohydrates in vegetables. Plus, studies have shown that they provide a number of healthy nutrients and health benefits! Some easy, affordable snacking options we’d recommend include: baby carrots, fresh broccoli, apples, pineapple, bananas or unsalted nuts–just be aware that nuts can be a bit expensive, depending on the type.
- Prep Large Meal PortionsBuying your lunch or dinner every work day can add up extremely fast, and a lot of the time, food options can be less than healthy. Chinese takeout and pizza are certainly delicious, but if you’re eating that consistently, it very quickly becomes unhealthy–and costly. Prepping healthy, filling meals to bring with you to work is an excellent way to save cash. When prepping, do so with a few key ingredients in mind: something with protein, something with some carbs, and one or more vegetables. This will keep your daily work meal nutritionally balanced and loaded with energy; your body- and wallet- will thank you.
- Buy GenericWhile the big brand foods are often the ones that naturally will draw your attention, consider buying generic brands instead. They are nearly always significantly cheaper, and have to follow the same food regulations as branded foods do (in fact, an NPR analysis shows that chefs in restaurants typically use generic brands); they just don’t catch your eye the same way that something you are familiar with does. This only comes with one caveat: check the ingredients before you buy generic, just to ensure that there aren’t any ingredients in it that make you queasy or uncomfortable.
- Buy In-Season Or Frozen ProduceBecause many fruits and vegetables are only really in-season a few months of the year, prices can fluctuate significantly; be open to buying whatever fruits and veggies are in-season at the time, so that you can keep a steady helping of them in your diet, without spending more money than you need to. If you have a hankering for something in particular, but are wary of the price an out of season piece of produce might cost, buying frozen is the most cost-effective route to take. Frozen fruits and vegetables don’t have the same allure that as their fresh counterparts, but according to a University of California study, they do have the same, very similar, and sometimes even greater nutritional value–and come at a much lower cost.
Remember, when it comes to eating healthy on a budget, there will be days where you eat something less-than-healthy, or spend more than you wish you had on a meal: and that’s ok! You are entitled to have days where you don’t follow a strict diet or a hard budget; these are just tips to get you moving in the right direction, not a series of orders etched in stone. Be kind to yourself, while still building good habits–you’ll start noticing that your diet, along with your food budget, getting closer to something that you are a little more comfortable with!
Looking for some more tips to get healthy and stay healthy through this summer and beyond? Check out these our companion blogs “4 Tips For Staying Active This Summer” and “7 Healthy Habits to Start the New Year Right.”