Fast foods appeal to many people. They are cheap, filled with tasty flavors and fit in today’s fast paced world where many people hardly have enough time to cook their own meals. But those burgers, fries, pizzas, donuts and soft drinks come with a hidden price – your health. Fast foods are often loaded with too much sodium, extra sugar, saturated fat and harmful chemical preservatives. When you factor in the cost of managing heart disease, diabetes and obesity, those meals don’t seem to be much of a bargain.
Most people eat junk food because they believe that eating healthy doesn’t come cheap. However, with the right strategy, you can easily eat right without a hefty price tag. Here are 10 tips you can use to start eating healthy on a budget.
Buy Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
Buying frozen (organic) fruits and vegetables can be a great money saving option. Frozen foods usually have a longer shelf life and this makes them cheaper than their fresh counterparts. Since good vendors pack their frozen fruits and vegetables right from the farms, many of the nutrients are locked in, thus ensuring that the frozen produce retains all its nutritional value. You can even save more by buying healthy frozen fruits and vegetables in bulk when they’re on offer, then store them in your freezer and not have to worry about the food going bad.
Don’t Go Shopping When You’re Hungry
You’re more likely to succumb to temptation and buy expensive foods and snacks when shopping on an empty stomach. Having a meal before you shop for food will actually help you to avoid impulsive spending and stick to healthy choices while you shop. If you don’t have time for a full meal, a filling healthy snack will still work to help you avoid overspending.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is the best beverage to keep you hydrated. It contains no calories and best of all, it costs nothing. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day helps to promote weight loss, flushes out toxins, improves skin complexion, boosts immune function and relieves fatigue. Dehydration can be mis-interpreted as hunger and contribute to overeating. Staying well hydrated helps to keep your body cleaner and can reduce unnecessary calories.
Fill Up on Fiber Rich Foods
Fiber provides a feeling of satiety since it metabolizes slowly in the digestive tract. This in turn curbs hunger cravings, allowing you to feel more satisfied. Fruits, leafy greens and whole grains are some of the best sources of fiber. These foods are also packed with nutrients and generally low on calories, making them a great addition to any healthy diet on a budget.
Freeze Your Leftovers
Studies have shown that the average family of four throws away about 40% of the food that they purchase every year. However, these leftovers can easily be frozen and re-heated. By doing this, you’ll avoid wasting such large quantities of food that would otherwise end up in the garbage bin and therefore spend much less at the grocery store. I personally freeze two servings from all our families’ soups, stews, chili’s, pastas and sauces. This gives us freezer ready meals when time is limited, or I just don’t feel like cooking.
Go for Fresh, Lean Meats
While processed meats such as burgers and fried chicken are tempting, they’re neither healthy nor good value for money. If you eat meat on a regular basis purchase fresh, lean cuts of meat such as chicken breast or turkey breast. You’ll also supply your body with some lean protein without filling up on harmful trans fats and chemical preservatives. The best part is with a few spices, you can crank up the flavor of these meats and make them taste even better than their processed counterparts. Reducing the serving size of animal protein can also save money and provide several meals. Filling up on whole foods with a small side serving of meat, reduces food costs and is far more nourishing for your body!
Look for Special Offers
Before heading to the grocery store, take the time to look for discount deals. There are many sites online which provide great deals on local healthy foods which are constantly updated. Local daily newspapers are another excellent way to find discounted healthy groceries in your area. Also, make sure to keep your eyes peeled when you’re in the grocery store, as there are likely to be lots of promotions running while you shop.
Try Homemade Sauces
Making and canning your own homemade sauce can save you money. You can use many locally sourced fruits and vegetables for the ingredients and these will cost a fraction of what you’ll end up spending on 1 bottle of ketchup. The best part about making your own sauce is that they taste so much better than the processed sauces you’ll find in stores. Plus, there are many free recipes on the Internet that can help you get started making your own sauces instantly.
Prepare Your Healthy Meal Plan in Advance
A sure way to overspend is by heading to the grocery store unprepared and tossing whatever looks good into your shopping cart. Instead of doing this, plan your healthy meals in advance and write a shopping list for the week ahead. This will allow you to control how much you spend on groceries and prevent you from going over your budget.
Take Advantage of The Grocery Store Clearance Rack
You can cut back on your grocery bill by checking for discounted foods at the clearance rack. Some stores mark down the price tag on perishable goods that are stacked on shelves when the expiry dates are nearing in order to encourage buying and reduce waste. By taking advantage of these deals, you can enjoy discounts of up to 75% on a range of tasty and healthy foods. Many of these foods on the clearance rack can be frozen, so even though you’re paying a fraction of the price, you don’t need to eat them right away.
If you want to eat healthy but haven’t found a way to do it while sticking to your grocery budget, these 10 tips can be used to slash your shopping bill while increasing your intake of healthy whole foods. Start with one tip at a time and track your spending and savings for the next few weeks. Eating healthy does not have to cost more, in fact you may even find you are eating better and saving more!
Alisa Herriman is an award winning nutritionist on a mission to help families eat healthier foods and live healthier lifestyles! If you would like to connect with Alisa, fill-in the contact form to learn about some customized support options for you and your family.
Alisa Herriman has been researching and teaching Nutrition since 2003. Leaving her job in the health care industry to share her passion for healthy living, Alisa travels all over Canada sharing her mission and teaching communities how to prevent and fight disease with Nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.