We all know what we should be eating, but when you are faced with a budget it can make the high processed, cheap and convenient foods alluring. As a society we are obsessed with staying fit and being healthy. This may seem out of reach to some of us who are trying to stretch every dollar these days. But rest assured, you too can be a healthy eater on a budget. Here are a few ideas to take the pressure off your family’s wallet!
Planning is Key
Rather than impulse buying or going to the store a few times a week, take the time to plan your menu ahead of time. Menu planning will allow you to take one trip to the store as well as ensure you are eating healthy for the week. There are plenty of cool sites online that will help you plan, and provide the shopping list at the end.
While in the process of planning your menu it will also produce a list that will help to make coupon hunting easy. Look for coupons online that you can print out or search your local stores websites for any upcoming deals. Note that knowing when your grocery store changes their prices may benefit you as well; check with your local chain store as this varies from state to state.
Buying in Bulk
Bulk stores like Sam’s club or Costco can be great sources of reduced price produce. Most of them also offering a pretty good selection of organic produce. Buying large quantities of produce can often result in waste when sitting in the fridge for too long. To counteract this problem you can flash steam your vegetables, then freeze them so that you don’t lose money on produce. Place in boiling water for 2 minutes then soak in ice water, dry and put into freezer safe bags.
Dried goods from bulk bins can be a great way to save money. You can buy grains and beans at a reduced rate then prepare them for use at a later date. Brown rice can be a healthy way to bulk up meals, just add veggies and protein. I take an hour or so every week and make up a batch of quinoa and brown rice, then keep them in the fridge for easy meals.
Buying seasonal produce can often reduce your bill due to the volume of product. Also check the Internet for the farmers markets in your area as they have great deals—if there are several, shop around because prices are higher in certain areas. A way to save money on your fresh vegetables is to save your vegetable trimmings to make your own veggie stock. Stock is notoriously expensive so by doing this you can have it on hand to make a number of healthy soups and casseroles, or just use it a substitute to oil when sautéing.
Eating healthy on a budget is definitely within your reach. All it really takes is some research and careful planning. Eating at home is a great way to save money and will keep you healthier—you’ll avoid all the hidden calories and fats that restaurants put into their foods. While cooking at home, make meals that are larger so that you can freeze the leftovers for lunch. When you have to fall back on fast food, check out their menus beforehand, it will help you make smarter choices!