When you are living paycheck to paycheck, or if you are scrapping every dime that you can find, like me, eating healthy at this time is just not an option – it’s just impossible. Meal planning and grocery shopping is already challenging when you are on a tight budget but it’s even a lot harder if you are dedicated to eating healthy.
When I was working in a very stressful job, I was gaining so much weight and I was having health issues, and every time a family member or a friend comes up to me and say “eat healthy” the next thing that comes through my mind is the word “expensive”. And let’s get real, eating healthy can be expensive but the problem was I can’t afford “expensive”. But I needed to make that change since my health was on the line, and thankfully with a few research I found out that eating healthy doesn’t always have to be expensive. There are a lot of alternatives and options that we can try; you just have to put a little effort to it. Let me share to you a couple tips on how to eat healthy on a tight budget.
Plan your meals
You are hitting two birds with one stone if you will be doing this. Not only will it help you make healthier choices (Since normally if we are making a last minute decision, we often go for takeouts or just eating out for dinner) this will also help you save a lot of money since you become more aware of how much money you’re spending on food each week and it will help you buy what you need instead of what you want. Plus you can plan your meals around those items that are on sale at your local stores.
Make a grocery list
Make a grocery list and STICK TO IT. This list is certainly a great way to avoid making poor and last minute food choices. I’ am an impulse buyer, so oftentimes when I go grocery shopping I end up getting what I want (that means junk food over vegetables) instead of what I need. So no more impulse buying! Plus this will also help you save money since impulse buying is one of the main reasons why our grocery bill is too high.
Stock up on sales
I normally keep a look out on sales for frozen vegetables, like peas, carrots or bell peppers. And sometimes your local grocery store might also have a last minute sale on brown rice. So be sure to get those! The great thing is they don’t go bad as quickly as other items and you know that you will use them sooner or later.
Eat less meat
Meat is often the most expensive item on my grocery list. So instead of planning my meals around them and serving them 4 to 5 times a week, I tried to find other alternatives and substitutes for it, I started eating beans and legumes, mushrooms and tofu. You don’t have to completely eliminate meat from your diet if you don’t want to, just try to cut it down a bit.
Buy in Bulk
If you have a lot of mouths to feed then this is certainly a life saver! Just be sure to buy items that you know your family will eat and won’t go bad quickly. I normally go for oats, apples (I just pop them in the freezer and they can last a long time ) and cheese.
Buy frozen vegetables and fruits
Don’t get me wrong I’ am also a fan of fresh produce but after a long stressful day at work the least thing that I want to do, is to prep the vegetables. I no longer have the energy to wash, peel and chop them so oftentimes this just leads to me getting takeout. So I go for frozen produce, its prep free, inexpensive and it lasts longer.
Cook in bulk
If you are someone who doesn’t mind eating the same food twice or thrice a week, or if you just don’t have the time and energy to prepare what to eat then this would be a life saver for you! This will not only help you make healthier choices, this will also help you save money and of course time. So say goodbye to ordering takeout for dinner (which by the way, costs you more money)
Explore your local farmers market
Eating fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies are great for your health; there is just no way around it! Also, try going to your local farmers market when it’s about to close, you can usually get very good bargains on produce around that time.
Buy store brands
Go for Generic! They provide more choices, plus it costs less money than buying their name-brand counterparts.
Opt for seasonal produce
Seasonal produce are generally cheaper. I usually buy more than what I need and I just put them in the freezer. It really helps me save money!
Keep in mind that you don’t have to break the bank to eat healthy. All you have to do is to explore other options. What about you? What strategies do you use to eat healthy when you’re on a budget?