So, you want to eat healthy but you think you’re broke? Here are some tips to help make healthy eating affordable and doable for any budget! Protein rich foods will keep you fuller longer so you aren’t always starving. As always, stick to whole grains and foods low in saturated and other unnecessary fats. Most of this list relates to grocery shopping, but I’ve weaved in some tips that will help you save money, stay healthy, and eat well!
1. Make a list.I am obsessed with lists. Nothing feels better than crossing something off your list. I like to keep a paper on my fridge so the second I’m running low, I just write it down! For those of you who are tech savvy, iPhone’s have a multitude of different apps you can get [for free!] where you can create lists! It’s much easier if you categorize it, so you wont have to wander the market for hours.
2. Stick to your list.Unless it’s something necessary (like toilet paper), don’t but it. It didn’t make it onto your list for a reason. Add it to next weeks!
3. Buy in bulk.Okay, so you might not need 5 pounds of chicken, but why not buy it and portion it out? For those of you who aren’t too great with math [me!] that’s 20 servings at 4 oz each! If you own a food scale, this would be the time to use it. After a while, you know exactly what 4 oz of uncooked poultry looks like. I always cut my packages the moment I get them from the grocery store, and portion them out in little baggies, and throw what I don’t need in the freezer.
4. Buy “Plain” Foods: You can do anything with chicken or tofu! Bake it, broil it, sear it in a pan, boil it, and the best part? There are a million and one ways to season them!
5. Use everything possible. Got a bunch of stuff left over from other meals? Combine them! Stir-fry is always an easy go to because you can throw anything and everything into it!
6. Don’t buy junk food. It’s a waste of money and calories. If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it. ☺
7. Sugar cereals aren’t worth it. You’re spending a lot of money on nothing. You’re better off purchasing whole grain cereals with low sugar and adding fruit for better flavor.
8. Use savings cards. The difference is huge! A lot of markets even give you things in return, like cheaper gas!
9. Prepackaged snacks are a waste. Again, this is where buying in bulk is cheaper. Rather than buying 100-calorie packs of things, make your own! All you need is a baggie.
10. Drink water. Forget the sports drinks and other prepared beverages.
11. Make your own food! There is no need to buy pre-prepared. It’s more expensive, less nutritious, and it contains ingredients you shouldn’t be putting into your body. When cooking, make extra. You can freeze your leftovers to consume later, and you know what’s in them!
12. Pack your own lunch. As obvious as this one may seem, A LOT of people don’t bother. Why not? Stop being lazy! Pack it the night before as you’re putting away dinner.
13. Buy seasonal. Produce is cheaper when it’s season, because it doesn’t have to be shipped from other parts of the country before it’s truly ready. Also, it’s much more fresh this way! Bananas shouldn’t be lime green! Here is a great list of produce that is in season. 14. Coupons, coupons, coupons! Need I say more? But, don’t let them fool you! You shouldn’t buy things just because they’re on sale. It’s a perfect opportunity to try new things but don’t buy something you know you won’t eat.
15. Go to the supermarket. Avoid convenience stores and gas stations. They are often overpriced and the product isn’t usually as fresh.
16. Give yourself a realistic budget, and stick to it! If you don’t give yourself a budget, you’re sure to spend more! If you’ve tried this and haven’t been successful, try shopping with cash only; you can’t spend it if you don’t have it!
17. Keep a running total. I used to bring a little calculator with me to add things up, but I’m sure your phone has one! Round everything up. If it’s $1.85, round it up to $2.00. You’ll spend less than you thought you were going to! Also, some stores have personal shopping devices like Stop and Shop’s Scan It!
18. Generics are just as good! What do you need the brand name for? Unfortunately, some stores don’t offer organic generics but Stop & Shop and Trader Joe’s both do!
19. Beans! They truly are a magical fruit An even cheaper alternative to canned? Buy dried! All you have to do is soak them over night. ½ a cup of black beans (my personal favorite) has 20 grams of carbs, 7.5 grams of protein, 7.6 grams of fiber (that’s 30% of what you need per day!) and only .5 a gram of fat! All for a teenie total of 114 calories!
20. Dairy. It’s cheap, filling, and chances are you’re not getting enough calcium! I love a glass of milk anytime of day.
21. Nut Butter. Yum! Nut butter is full of healthy fats, and it’s super filling! I personally LOVE almond butter, but since it tends to be on the pricier side, so I usually have to stick with good ol’ peanut butter.
22. Tupperware. Now, granted I love Tupperware more than a soccer mom does but it’s for good reason! It’s reusable, so you don’t have to throw it out after one use, and it’s multipurpose! You can store and eat out of the same container! (Just make sure you don’t microwave in it, yuck!) I have a ton of different sizes for every purpose necessary. Also, makes cabinet storage much easier and organized so you don’t forget about the food you have on hand and it will stay fresher for longer!
23. Soy. Easiest and most obvious form? Tofu. It’s not as hard to cook as you think and a package will run you about $2 and you’ll get AT LEAST 3-4 meals out of it! Easiest way for those of you who aren’t too familiar with it to enjoy it would be stir-fry [refer back to tips 4 & 5].
24. Potlucks! You’re busy, I get it, so am I. You should make time to see friends, and what better way than a potluck? Everybody brings a little something and gets lots of variety!
25. And the golden rule? DON’T GO SHOPPING HUNGRY! You’ll buy a lot more than you intended to because you’ll want to eat it right then and there!