If you are looking to change up your diet and eat healthy, good for you. The saying “you are what you eat” is cliche but it is oh so true. Many people think that you have to spend a lot of money to eat healthy, but that could not be further from the truth. By staying away from the fad foods and sticking with the basics, you should actually be able to save some money and get healthy at the same time. Here are some simple tips to get you on your way.
1. Get Organized
The biggest way to waste money is to not have a plan with your food. You need to plan out your meals. When you do this, you can then make a detailed list and go shopping efficiently. Plan out your meals and then make your list after checking your pantry first. We tend to forget just what we actually have in there which leads to a lot of wasted food and money.
When you go shopping, stick to the list and resist impulse buys. If you are the impulsive type, shop online and pick it up at the curb. Most stores do curbside pickup these days and it is free. It will keep you from being exposed to end caps and register stands designed to make you cheat on your diet and your budget.
2. Shop The Circulars
The best way to save money on healthy food is to shop the grocery store circulars. The major grocery stores will release a new circular every week with new sales usually starting on Wednesday. You can check them online at their websites.
What you will notice is that they have a few items that are dramatically lower in price. They do this to lure you in so that you will buy some of their more expensive items as well. Instead, make a list and just go in for what is on sale. If they have chicken breasts for sale, for example, buy as much as you can and take it home and freeze it.
Just be smart and only buy what you will use and don’t bulk buy perishable items unless you know for sure that you will use them.
3. Limit Your Meat
I am as much of a carnivore as anyone but I know to things. Too much meat can be bad for you and meat is expensive. Cut down on the amount of meat that you eat and you can be healthier and save a lot of money.
A serving size of meat is generally considered about 4 ounces but most of us tend to go over that amount. Take chicken for example. Go to the butcher and pick up boneless skinless chicken breasts and you will notice that they are huge. I don’t know what they are putting in that bird seed but the average chicken breast seems to be 10 to 12 ounces these days. That is three servings. Get a cheap digital food scale for under 10 dollars and start cutting down your serving size.
To stretch that 4 ounce serving out to a meal, use some basic healthy and inexpensive fillers. Rice is a good one and it can be bought very cheaply in bulk. A serving of rice is just a few cents when you skip the instant stuff and buy it in large bags.
Potatoes and beans are also great fillers that are fairly cheap, especially if you buy dry beans and make them from scratch.
4. Be Smart With Produce
Produce is tricky. It can be expensive and it can go to waste easily. If you want to eat healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables are a must, but you need to be smart to stay on budget.
First, buy your produce at a Farmer’s Market if possible. Many cities will have them on the weekends and it gives you the opportunity to buy farmer direct without the huge markup.
Second, you need to only buy as much as you can use in a week. Produce will spoil quickly so plan out your meals and buy just what you need to avoid waste. Be sure to also store your fruit and veggies smartly. Some will last better refrigerated while some might be better off in a dark pantry. A little research online will help you know what should be stored where.
5. Cut Out Soda
Soda is perhaps one of the worst things that we put in our body. Not only that, it is expensive. With a 12 pack of soda costing as much as $5 at the grocery store and a glass costing $4 at a restaurant, it is an expense that can add up quickly. The average soda drinking family could realize a 200 dollar savings a month from cutting it out of their diet.
Ideally, you will replace soda with a water bottle that you can just refill. If you need more convenience, there is always bottled water. It is still much cheaper than soda but you do have the issue of plastic waste.
6. Beware Of Fast Food
Fast food in general does not go well with budgets or eating healthy. Still, sometimes you will need to bite the bullet and go the fast food route. When you do, try to do so smartly. Some fast food restaurants meals are much better than others.
Subway is a good choice. Get the sub of the day and then load it up with fresh vegetables. Add a light dressing and you have an inexpensive meal that is good for you. Wendy’s is another good choice because you can get a baked potato for around a dollar. Filling, cheap and relatively healthy.
7. Learn To Cook
If you are not already accustomed to cooking your own meals, the prospect of doing so can be intimidating. Trust me, it is really not that hard. I did not come from a family that cooked but I taught myself. Just do baby steps and learn how to season. Getting started, you can make a tasty meal with three easy seasonings. They are salt, pepper and garlic powder. With those three things, you can season everything from veggies to meat. Master those and then you can branch out.
Cooking your own food allows you to skip the expensive processed foods. Not only will you save money, you will also keep a lot of unwanted chemicals out of your body.
Tina’s Final Word
Eating healthy on a budget does not have to be hard. You simply need to make some smart choices and get organized. Try it for just a few months and not only will you feel and look better, you might save a lot of money, hundreds of dollars a month.