6 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget
With healthy food options often being more expensive, it can be challenging to find ways to maintain a healthy diet on a limited budget. But, you would be surprised how just a few changes in the way you do your grocery shopping can impact your ability to save money. Here are six tips you can add to your lifestyle to make eating healthy on a budget possible.
1. Plan Your Meals
Planning your meals not only ensures you eat a well-balanced meal, but it also makes it easier to buy exactly what you need at the store. By planning your meals ahead of time, you can write a grocery list that includes only the ingredients you will need that week. This helps prevent you from buying foods that you won’t use and eventually throw away.
When you plan your meals, aim for a plate that consists of mainly vegetables, then add a lean protein option and whole grains. An example meal would be about one cup of broccoli, one chicken breast, and half a cup of brown rice. This way you ensure you are getting all of the food groups your body needs. Once you have your meals planned, then you can plan your grocery list.
There are a number of apps available that make managing your groceries a breeze. These apps can save your favorite items, track nutritional information, and even share your lists with your contacts. In addition, by having it on your phone, it makes it less likely that you’ll leave your list at home. We all know how frustrating that can be!
Pro Tip: Before you do your grocery shopping, take a look in your pantry and fridge. Oftentimes, there are foods already in your home that you can use to make tasty meals, saving you money on the next shopping trip.
2. Stick to Your Grocery List
If you want to stay on budget, you are going to need to stick to what’s on your grocery list. After all, what good is a plan if you don’t follow it? Do your best to buy only what you need for your recipes in the week ahead.
With delicious food options all around you, this can be tough to do. As you shop, you will notice that the center aisles of the store are often filled with unhealthy, processed foods. To avoid a sudden (and likely irresistible) craving, go around the perimeter of the store first, filling your cart with fresh produce and essentials, such as milk, eggs, and breads.
Pro tip: Choose generic brand options to save even more money at the grocery store. Sometimes, these options are slightly healthier too, just be sure to do your research and read the nutritional information.
3. Don’t Grocery Shop Hungry
Going to the grocery store hungry can make it more of a challenge to stick to your list. Not only will it end up costing you much more than you expected, but you are more likely to bring home unhealthy options you didn’t plan on. Try to do your grocery shopping after a snack or meal to prevent temptation from doing your shopping for you!
4. Pack Your Own Snacks
While pre-packaged snacks may be more convenient, packing your own snacks can save you big bucks in the long run. When packing your snacks, use reusable snack containers. Not only will this save you money, but it will also help the environment by reducing packaging waste.
Pro Tip: Remember to measure or weigh your healthy snacks in appropriate portions, based on the serving sizes. This can prevent snacking from getting out of hand!
5. Eat Seasonal Fresh Foods
When fruits and vegetables are in season, it costs both farmers and distributors less to get the food from the farm to the grocery store. This means that they are much less expensive due to the higher volume that is available.
Knowing this, plan your meals to incorporate fresh options that are currently in season. Do research to discover when the produce is harvested. For example, peak sweet potato season is September, after farmers harvest in the last weeks of August. During the start of the fall, you can include dishes like roasted sweet potatoes, sweet potato fries, and mashed sweet potatoes in your meal planning to achieve eating healthy on a budget. Discover all of the amazing health benefits of sweet potatoes on our blog by clicking here.
6. Buy Frozen Produce
One of the most common ways people throw money away (literally) is by purchasing too many fresh produce items. In the end, these items end up spoiling and needing to be tossed out. If you want to save even more money on fruits and vegetables, try buying frozen options. They still provide all of the nutritional benefits of fresh produce, but at a much lower price.
Pro Tip: Use frozen fruits in your smoothies. You can find some of our favorite summer smoothie recipes here.
7. Get Your Protein From Sources Other Than Meat
Meat can be one of the more expensive items when grocery shopping. If you want to stick to your budget while still incorporating protein in your diet, choose alternative sources of protein. Some great sources of proteins are:
- Garbanzo beans
- Lima Beans
Add these to salads or substitute for meat a couple times a week to eat healthier on a budget and still get all the protein your body needs.
8. Use a Meal Prep Service
Meal prep services are a great way to manage your budget. With a set price for a set number of meals, you can easily control how much money you spend a month on food. Additionally, they can make it easier for you to count calories and control your portion sizes, both very important healthy eating habits.
At UpFresh Kitchen, we provide meal prep services for both pick-up and delivery in the Charlotte, NC area. Our meals are carefully crafted with fresh ingredients that form delicious, well-balanced, and most importantly, affordable meals. We change our menu options every week, making it easy to try new meals and ensure you never get tired of eating the same things. Browse this week’s menu and order your meals that make eating healthy on a budget simple.