How to eat healthy on a budget

Some people think eating healthy is pricey. It may be, depending on what you buy, but it also depends on how you look at it. I think the bigger concern and question is: What does it cost if you don’t eat healthy?  Spending a little more on fruits, vegetables and quality protein now, could save you tens of thousands of dollars in avoided medical procedures, pharmaceuticals, and specialty healthcare later. Eating well also gives you more energy and a higher quality of life. I remember the suffering my family went through when I was growing up because of poor eating habits.

 

While dollar for dollar, healthy food may cost a bit more than junk food, it is worth it. Also, if you are trying to lose, or maintain weight, 80 percent of your success is how you eat.  So, I do have a few tips to cut your food costs as you cut your calories:

1. When it comes to vegetables, buy frozen instead of fresh. These cost less and in some cases may be better quality. When food companies freeze vegetables, they usually pick them right at their peak ripeness and freeze them on the spot. That locks in all the nutrients and vitamins and preserves them until they are thawed or cooked. Fresh vegetables that have been sitting for days may have already deteriorated from that peak point of nutrition. You can also buy frozen vegetables in bulk and keep them for a while longer.

2. Load up on kale, cabbage, spinach, broccoli and any other kinds of greens. These are inexpensive and there is so much you can do with them. You can put them in soups, on sandwiches, in salads and use them to make certain snacks (like kale chips!). All greens are packed with vitamins that are super nutritious for you, and greens should always be easy to find.

3. Grab eggs, chicken, and canned tuna, for high quality protein at a good price. Eggs are definitely versatile, simple and nutritious. You can boil, scramble or stir fry them. You can put them in salads or pair them with other ingredients. Canned tuna is a great way of getting fish into your diet and you should be able to purchase several cans at a time for just a few dollars.  (Only eat tuna once a month or so though because of the mercury).

4. Beans are another good source of protein and they are also high quality carbohydrates that are full of fiber. There is a lot of variety with beans and you can buy them in bulk, they don’t spoil, and they are cheap. You can make chickpeas, lentils, black beans and other kinds of beans into dips or use them in salads or lots of other ways.

5. If push comes to shove, and you need more low cost protein, you can go online and buy a big jug of protein powder for not much money. You just have to check to make sure the ingredients are healthy with no added sugar. Then you can use the powder to make quick grab-n-go smoothies and shakes.  Quinoa, cottage cheese and yogurt are other ways to get more protein in for just a few extra dollars.

6. When it comes to fruit, bananas, apples, pears, plums and other typical kinds of fruit shouldn’t be that expensive and you can find them everywhere.

7. Oats, brown rice and sweet potatoes are healthy complex carbohydrates that you can buy in bulk on the cheap.

The biggest tip overall is to plan. Know what you need in advance and take advantage of sales. Stock up on foods that work for more than one recipe and remember that the majority of your calories should come from protein and healthy fats if you are trying to lose weight. With these tips you should be able to trim your waistline and your grocery bill in no time!