Finding healthy food options on a tight budget can be daunting, but that doesn’t mean healthy options are impossible—quite the opposite is true!
Food items with higher costs tend to come packaged in large, pre-packed boxes; making the process simpler by stripping back to its basic ingredients could prove more cost-effective for you.
Healthy diets don’t have to be costly. We will explore essentials that will keep you on the right path even with tight budgets.
1. Generate and follow an ordered shopping list.
Shopping lists allow you to plan meals ahead of time and save money, helping to prevent impulse buys at convenience stores. Planning meals ahead can save money. Set aside enough time each day for this important task so as to save both time and money in your spending habits.
Once you’ve planned out your meals for the week, review what items are already in the pantry to avoid buying duplicates. Be specific in what items you intend on buying; staying true to what was initially outlined if working within a budget can be essential.
Select healthy, unprocessed products and ingredients when shopping. Typically located around the edges of supermarkets, healthier shopping lists can be made by writing down all of the fruits and vegetables you intend to purchase before working through them. Certain apps, like calorie counters, can assist in this effort each week.
2. Never shop when hungry.
No amount of emphasis can make this point clear enough; we have all been there and seen what can happen: you head into a store, spend more than planned, and it isn’t healthy either.
If your grocery list often gets forgotten when filling your basket, willpower may not be on your side to stick with it and choose foods that don’t provide essential nutrition and may also be more expensive than planned.
Before heading into any store, making a run for yogurt or nuts may be an ideal strategy to ensure a successful shopping trip.
3. Home cooking is ideal.
Cooking at home can not only save money, but it also allows you to control how many calories are ingested in each bite and ensure you are eating healthily. Dining out may be enjoyable; however, if budget restrictions restrict how you spend it, this could limit what is possible in terms of meal planning for daily needs.
Cooking at home can be done to the highest standards.
When trying to reduce food expenses, eating at home should always be your top choice instead of opting for takeaways, convenience food delivery services, or dining out at restaurants.
4. Cook smart.
While overcooking may produce enough leftovers to provide lunches later on or meals throughout the week, make sure not to waste it and thus money! By doing so, you are just throwing money down the drain.
Making a concerted effort to cook an extra-large meal and use half of its leftovers as another dinner will not only save time but can save you effort as well. Consider ways you could reuse any food items or vegetables left from previous dishes in stir-fries, stews, salads, etc. Preparing a meal ahead of time helps avoid last-minute food ordering services or convenience food purchases, which are tempting options.
5. Try your best to steer clear of big brands.
When shopping in larger stores, there’s a good chance you will come across their “own label” products of a certain product. Though these may not offer the same level of satisfaction as their brand equivalents, they can often be a more economical choice.
One important point we would like to make is that it is highly advised that when selecting food products from stores, they should not be more calorific than other brands. Though we want to lower costs, our health should never suffer at the cost of our budget.
6. Don’t be alarmed by frozen aisles.
Due to the abundance of processed meals in this section, many shoppers avoid it altogether. Yet there are some healthier choices within this category that shouldn’t be disregarded.
Healthy frozen fruits that are free from added ingredients
Frozen vegetables and fruits tend to be cheaper when bought frozen. Frozen fruit makes an excellent low-cal dessert or smoothie addition; you only take it out when needed so your supply can last longer.
7. Be wary of processed foods.
Ready-to-eat meals that come prepackaged may seem convenient, but if your aim is to plan healthier menu options each week, they should become redundant. Convenience foods tend to contain minimal nutrients and are more costly.
Making sure to buy whole foods as often as possible will ensure that your diet stays on track while saving money. Oatmeal and brown rice, for instance, tend to be less costly per ounce than processed cereals; you could even purchase essential items in larger quantities, which could result in additional savings.
8. Monitor sales operations.
Deals that provide two-for-one savings can add up over time, but only purchase items you know you will use!
Keep an eye out for sales. Keep your eyes peeled for any products on sale that you frequently use and that you could store and take out when necessary in order to minimize food waste.
9. Make use of coupons and points cards.
Make sure that the coupons you collect will actually benefit you; using food-related coupons merely as an unnecessary cost is counterproductive and should be avoided at all costs.
Focus on purchasing nutritious food items and stockpiling in bulk to save on costs for this year and beyond. Use points at check-out to earn savings for both you and the environment!
10. Meat Is Not the Only Source of Protein
Meat can be expensive, especially if it’s all you eat every day. So why not use this opportunity to add variety without compromising the essentials?
Try switching up your diet for just a couple days without turning into a carnivore; create meals made up of eggs, dairy products, grains, nuts, and seeds instead.
Healthy dining on a budget involves making plans. Once you establish the habit of planning the meals you will cook yourself, planning will become simpler, and eating home-prepared food rather than ordering delivery is both a cheaper and healthier option.