Eating healthy is easier said than done. And one of the most common issues I hear is that eating healthy on a budget is HARD. Yes, health foods can be expensive. And Yes again, a salad is more expensive than a burger and fries (go figure), but these 10 tips will have you eating healthy on a budget in no time!
Meal planning is one of the most effective tools to save money when it comes to eating healthy on a budget. Plan your weekly dinners, lunches and even breakfasts and BUY ONLY WHAT YOU NEED. I am definitely guilty of buying food ‘just in case’ or as a ‘treat’ and all too often I throw out food because it has expired and gone bad before I have had a chance to use it. Food wastage is one of the biggest food crimes! By meal planning you know ahead of time what you are going to prepare and you can even make in bulk to save you time.
CHOOSE CHEAP STAPLES
We all need foods that are filling and easy for those busy days. Some of the easiest and most satisfying health foods are also the cheapest. Think OATS, RICE, BANANAS (in season), POTATO, SWEET POTATO, BEANS, LENTILS, CHICKPEA FLOUR. Buy these products in bulk to save even more.
Shopping for my basics online saves me $50-100 per week. How? Simply because I buy only what I need. I don’t look for specials or get sucked into ‘buy more and save’ discounts. I simply buy what is on my list. I can also compare products at home without the stress of rushing. Choose the click and collect option if available so that you are not having to pay delivery fees.
SHOP LOCAL AND IN SEASON
I can not stress this enough. Berries in Winter will cost you a small fortune. Just don’t do it. Foods are more delicious when eaten in season and are more likely to have been locally grown (and therefore less likely to have travelled huge distances. Find a local farmers market, produce market, or farmer and shop from them. You will find that you become more creative with what you have each season.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the latest superfood trend. You will notice that 90% of said superfoods are highly expensive for little nutritional gain. There are a few that I would recommend purchasing OVER TIME because I believe they have bang for their buck (chia seeds, quinoa and maca powder to name a few) but the rest are not needed. Buy fresh whole foods and eat a wide variety of produce and you won’t ‘need’ superfoods. You can see my favourite ‘superfoods’ here.
FREEZE DONT THROW
Ever feel like you are throwing out foods because they go bad before you get to them? FREEZE THEM! Fruit and vegetables are some of the best foods to freeze because they can be used in such a wide variety of meals. Use frozen fruit for smoothies, home made ice-cream and frozen vegetables for soups, stirfrys, and curries. Simply chop and freeze or par-cook and freeze in zip lock bags or freezer-safe containers. Freezing applies to meat, bread and even baby formula to prolong the shelf life. See my top tips for freezing fruit here.
SOUPS AND CURRIES
Soups and curries are a great way to create filling meals on the cheap. Use lentils and beans for cheap protein and use rice, barley, pasta or potatoes to bulk out the meal. Soups are also a great way to use up left-overs and in most cases can be frozen for quick meals on busy days.
Your recipe says quinoa but you can’t afford it. Simply swap it out for rice. Some of my best recipe creations have been because I didn’t have what I wanted when creating a meal. Get creative and use what you have available to you. Don’t feel like you need to buy every item for a successful meal.
STORE FOOD WELL
Poor food storage will not do your budget (or your health) any favours. Store fruits and vegetables in crisper drawers, store dry produce in air-tight containers, and check that your fridge and freezer are set to the right temperatures based on your location. Seal bags once opened and cover food in the fridge. Remove food from tins before storing in the fridge and be sure to recycle any packaging.
STOP EATING TAKEAWAYS
That one takeaway cup of coffee each day could be costing you $1800 a year! Add a few take away meals each week and you are spending a small fortune on foods that are not only crushing your budget but also your health. If you love eating out then designate a small fund for it and stick to your budget. Chose wisely and support local stores to re-invest money back into your community. Remember that when you eat takeaway food 99% of the time you won’t be given a full ingredient list (nor a method of how your food is prepared). You could also be eating a chemical storm.
I call healthy eating INVESTING. You are investing in the most important stock money can buy. Without you, all the money in the world really does not matter. When you eat well you find that you are sick less (which equals less doctor visits, expensive scripts and medicines) and therefore you have fewer sick days from work (equalling more money). You feel better, work better, and move better.
Do you have hot tips for eating healthy on a budget?