By now, you’ve probably heard someone say that it simply isn’t affordable to eat healthy while sticking to a budget. Many people mistakenly believe that it’s too expensive to eat healthy, complaining of the price and the time it takes to prepare a home-cooked meal. However, it really doesn’t have to break the bank to stick to a nutritious diet!
Today we’re sharing six simple ways to eat healthy on a tight budget so you can eat better and feel better without spending your entire paycheck. By keeping these tips in mind, you won’t feel broke every time you leave the grocery store.
1. Plan Your Meals in Advance
Taking the time to plan your meals in advance actually provides many benefits for you. First, it makes grocery shopping much less stressful. By having a list of everything you need when you walk into the store, you’ll know exactly what you have to pick up. You can avoid the unhealthy temptations that linger in every aisle by grabbing what you need and getting out of the store.
It’s also great because you can take the time to plan out healthy, nutritious meals. When your food for the day has already been planned out, you’ll be less likely to hit the drive-thru for a quick fix. And making those smarter choices with your food will have you feeling much better.
Also, planning your meals in advance can help eliminate food waste. Think about how often you buy something at the grocery store, only for it to spoil before you’re able to use it. Not only is this a waste of food, but it’s not doing your wallet any good either. Instead, you can plan your meals to use up all of the ingredients you buy, thus cutting down on food and financial waste.
Another great tip is to use this as an opportunity to look for sales at your local stores. You can also clip coupons for the items you need as well. Any little bit of cash you can save makes a huge difference when you’re on a tight budget, so it’s worth the added effort.
If you don’t have the time to pre-plan your meals, that’s completely understandable. In cases where time is an issue, consider using a meal delivery service. There are some great meal kits out there like Sun Basket that give you a variety of healthy options while also saving you time.
2. Choose Less Expensive Cuts of Meat
One of the more expensive items on your grocery list is probably meat. When you’re looking to buy high-quality cuts of meat, you’re going to pay a good price for it. Sometimes you can get lucky and find certain cuts are on sale at your local grocery store, but you can’t always count on this happening. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still save a few bucks!
In fact, you can keep more cash in your pocket by choosing quality meats that are just in less expensive cuts. For example, you might typically go for the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but you can save by choosing chicken thighs instead. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to give up chicken breast entirely. However, you can alternate each week to cut back on your grocery spending.
Many people avoid buying the tougher cuts of meat because they’re not always the most enjoyable to eat. The key is to know how to properly cook it!
3. Freeze Your Produce for Later
Don’t you hate it when your favorite produce goes out of season? Well, you don’t have to! In fact, you can still enjoy some of your favorite items whether they’re in season or not thanks to your freezer. This way, you don’t have to count down the days until they return to the produce section!
Before your favorites are gone, stock up and stash them in your freezer. There are many fruits and veggies that will do just fine when they’re frozen. You can then reach for them whenever you want, so they’re always available for you to enjoy.
One great way to take advantage of this is for making smoothies. If you have a go-to smoothie recipe you love, portion out the ingredients, put them in a freezer bag, and stash it in the freezer. The next time you need a smoothie fix, you can grab the bag and add the ingredients to your blender. You’ll have a delicious drink in no time at all!
4. Try Growing Your Own Veggies & Herbs
If you really want to eat healthy on a tight budget, why not try growing your own veggies and herbs? This is a great way to save cash because you’ll have plants that provide you with your favorites whenever they’re in season. That means it’s less cash you’ll have to spend at the grocery store!
For those who love a juicy tomato, you can easily grow them right at home without too much effort. To add some flavor to your meals, start growing some herbs like rosemary, thyme, and basil. And you can even grow some fresh mint to add to a cold glass of water.
Not only is this a great way to save yourself some money, but it’ll help you develop your green thumb. You’ll learn all about caring for plants, which is a new skill that’ll really come in handy. Who knows, you might decide to start a full garden one day! Plus, you’ll feel so proud of yourself when you add what you’ve grown to the dishes you prepare in the kitchen.
5. Repurpose Your Leftovers
Are you guilty of letting your leftovers go to waste? If so, it’s time to change that! Instead of leaving them in your fridge to spoil, plan to eat them the next day for lunch or have them for dinner again. While that might not sound exciting, you can find new ways to use the food you’ve already prepared. It’ll help you save cash since you won’t have to spend money making or buying a new meal, plus it eliminates food waste.
Repurposing your meals gives you the chance to get creative. For example, if you made a roast chicken for dinner last night, you could use the leftovers to make a sandwich or to add protein to the salad you have for lunch. Or if you’re feeling like a Mexican dish, you can make chicken tacos with the addition of a few extra ingredients. It’s quick and easy! The ideas are truly endless!
6. Cook in Bulk
One way to make healthy eating easier and less expensive is to cook certain meals in bulk. There are many dishes that can be made in larger batches, then frozen to be enjoyed later. Not only does it save you time, but it’s simple because you’ll always have something you can reach for in the freezer. That means there’s less of a temptation to eat out, as long as you thaw out your food first!
When planning out your meals for the week, plan to make something you can freeze for later. Some great options to consider are chili and any kind of soup that you enjoy. Another handy idea is to freeze homemade marinara sauce, which can be thawed and easily added to pasta or zucchini noodles. It’s much healthier than jar sauces from the store. This is the perfect dinner option to plan for when you don’t have much time to cook.