Staying Healthy On a Budget
You’ve probably heard people complain that eating healthy is expensive. While on the surface, it may seem true (after all, fast food is so much cheaper), it’s entirely possible to eat better food without your wallet having to take a hit. It just takes a little planning, some finesse and a lot of creativity. Here are eight simple things you can do to improve your diet regardless of the balance in your bank account.
Learn to cook. First and foremost, cooking from scratch is going to save you money in the long run, so if you’re not a master in the kitchen, it’s time to beef up your culinary skills. Sure, there are pre-packaged food options that are relatively healthy, but you’ll pay much more for them in terms of total cost.
Use smaller plates. The less food you prepare and serve, the less waste you’ll have, which means you’ll be saving money over time. Focus on always using the ingredients you have on-hand before having to go back to the store and buy more, and prepare smaller portions. As an added bonus, you’ll also avoid overeating.
Buy frozen. Fresh produce is great, but it’s more pricey than frozen. Frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh, but they last much longer, which – again – means less waste. Plus, you’ll always have healthy ingredients on hand when you need them – perfect for those last-minute or busy weeknight meals.
Batch cook. Some dishes are great for cooking large batches and then freezing the rest. For instance, soups, stews, sauces and chili are all easy to prepare in large quantities and also freeze well. That way you’ll always have a quick meal on hand whenever you need one. Simply reheat and serve.
Plan ahead. Preparing your meals a week in advance can help prevent waste and also reduce unnecessary trips back and forth to the store. As you’re planning out your meals, keep a running list of every ingredient you need and stick to that list when you’re grocery shopping. Also, if possible, cooking one larger meal (such as a turkey or pot roast) at the beginning of the week can provide leftovers for additional meals later.
Invest in a slow cooker. For whatever reason, slow cookers have a way of taking even the most basic ingredients and turning them into mouthwatering masterpieces. Take advantage of this by finding simple recipes with few and/or inexpensive ingredients, toss them in and let the pot do the cooking for you. It’s a win-win!
Spice things up. You don’t have to add a ton of ingredients to make a good, healthy meal. With the right spices, you can easily turn a mediocre dish into something to truly write home about. Shop your local dollar or discount store to stock up on inexpensive spices for an added savings.
Use coupons. Don’t forget the extra savings you can enjoy by simply clipping a few coupons before you hit the store. It doesn’t take a ton of time – especially if you already know what you need for the meals you’re planning. Simply browse your local flyer and clip the ones that are relevant.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The eight tips above should help you stay on budget and on the diet wagon at the same time.