Healthy Eating on a Budget
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
There’s a common misconception out there that eating healthy means eating expensively. It can feel this way when the latest nutrition trends and diet “truths” floating around the internet are being endorsed by celebrities/influencers who are pushing products and lifestyles sold at a high price. You don’t need to be eating all organic produce to have a healthy diet. You don’t need to be drinking $12 wheatgrass smoothies to have a healthy diet. You don’t need to shop exclusively at Whole Foods to have a healthy diet.
Eating well on a budget has always required that consumers be savvy about their choices and educated about their health needs. As a result of the pandemic, the mass job losses coupled with the rising prices of food, learning how to stretch your dollar has become even more important. Today’s post outlines all the big and small things you can do to stay on budget and maintain a healthy diet.
1. Plan Ahead
I know I’ve said it before, but planning ahead is one of the most important steps to set you up for success. Most of my clients know exactly what they want to change to achieve better health, but struggle to implement their goals due to lack of planning and preparation. There are so many different ways to plan ahead to save some cash.
Start paying attention to the regular prices of foods you often purchase. This way, when the grocery store advertises a “special” you’ll know if it’s really saving you any money.
Buy food that you regularly use in larger amounts (and store safely) when it’s on sale. For example, when whole wheat wraps come on sale for a dollar, I pick up ten packs and store them in the freezer! Be cautious though, Don’t fall prey to sales on foods you don’t actually use.
Ask your grocery store if they price match, if they do...start price matching! It saves way more money than you think. The bonus is that you get to feel like a winner each time you look at your receipt and see how much you saved.
Start comparing flyers. If you don’t receive paper flyers or don’t like using them, download a flyer app like ReeBee or Flipp. They make comparing foods and searching for items super easy.
If the sale item you’re looking for isn’t in stock, ask employees for a rain check and take advantage another day.
Plan meals based on what’s on sale that week. Peppers are on sale? Stuffed peppers for dinner on Tuesday! Peppers on pizza another night that week!
Avoid purchasing “one-time use” ingredients for a regular weeknight meal. Definitely purchase them if you’re looking to enjoy a more luxurious meal or give yourself a treat.
Always check to see what you already have. You may have forgotten that you already have chocolate chips.
2. Be a Savvy Shopper
Shop at discount grocery store chains instead of their higher-end counterparts.
Bring your own reusable bags, cost-effective and environmentally friendly!
Find out of your grocery store has a rewards or loyalty program to earn points or free groceries.
Compare brands and look at all the options available on the shelves. Product placement is a real marketing tool that can have you spending more than you need to simply because you didn’t check the cans up high or down low.
Use unit pricing. This is a tip that has come in handy for me countless times. If you’re comparing two kinds of pasta, but one is a smaller size than the other, how can you tell which is cheaper without spending the time to do the math? Flip-up or look closer at the price tag on the shelf to check the unit price, usually listed per 100g. Is it $0.34 or $0.88 oer 100g? There’s your quick answer.
Prepared food naturally costs more. Take the time to cut up your carrots instead of buying mini carrots or to make your own pancake mix instead of buying a boxed one.
Frozen food is a healthy and nutritious option. It’s also cost-effective and lasts much longer than fresh produce.
Get More From Your Food
Now that you’re filled in on all the shopping tips, let’s talk about each food group specifically.
When fruits or veggies are on sale and in season, buy more! Then wash and trim and store them in the freezer to use another day.
Try shopping for produce on the discounted cart carrying less fresh items. They aren’t expired, but either need to be eaten quickly or frozen to preserve them.
Experiment with a garden. If you live in an apartment or condo, try a couple of potted herbs to start and see how it goes. If you have a yard, think about starting a vegetable patch to grow your own.
Buy day old breads and baked goods and either freeze or use to make something in bulk. Try a french toast bake that requires a crustier bread.
Make your own loaves and muffins instead of buying the packaged ones. It’s cheaper, but also gives you complete control over the ingredients.
Buy grains like oats and rice in bulk for cost-savings. Pre-packaged mixes tend to cost more and your own version of oats could end up being less processed!
Add oats or bread crusts to burgers and meatloaf to gain a larger yield.
Meats tend to be the most expensive item among protein foods. Look for sales like multi-buys or bulk-buying and freeze extras.
Cook with eggs, they are a satisfying and delicious protein option that are also lower-cost. There are soo many ways to cook with eggs that don’t only involve breakfast!
Use natural peanut butter for protein and healthy fats.
Use beans and legumes!! Cost-effective, huge variety of options, tons of different ways to cook them.
Use canned tuna or salmon instead of fresh. Or buy plain frozen filets.
Have questions or want to book an appointment? Contact us, we love to help!