Eating Healthy on a Budget
Attempting to balance your diet and your checkbook at the same time can be a trying ordeal. Use these four simple tips to help you make healthy, financially sound choices at the grocery store.
How to Eat Healthy On a Budget
1) Buy in bulk. As much as you can, shop for larger sizes of relatively non-perishable items (like ketchup and low-fat peanut butter) and dry goods (like brown rice and whole wheat flour). After the initial investment, different foodstuffs will be used up at different rates, and you will no longer have to pick up every single staple every week. In addition, having plenty of healthy options at your fingertips will make you less likely to go out for dinner because you are out of something, saving both your calorie budget and monetary budget from busting.
2) Scan for savings. Just because you are used to a certain brand or variety of a given food doesn't mean that is what you have to pick up every time. Companies count on product recognition to hook you into grabbing their products off the shelves without comparing prices. Look for sales on comparable items, and check the price per ounce against the generic grocery store brand to be sure you're getting the best deal.
3) Eat in season. Fresh fruits and vegetables can take a toll on your pocketbook, but they are essential to a healthy diet. Produce is cheaper when it is plentiful-in other words, when it is in season. For a list of what's best (and cheapest) when, check out these monthly lists for Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. Eat as much as you can raw to get the best nutritional value (and taste!), then get creative with the rest: smoothies, desserts, stir-fries, casseroles. The risk of eating only what's in season is that you may get some flavor fatigue, but variety in cooking methods and combinations help to break up the monotony and stave off tastebud boredom.
4) Make the most of your meats. Getting enough protein is vital to your body's and brain's functioning. Meat can be pricey, so it's important to be conscious of your choices. Once again, buying larger sizes can save you money, so make sure what you buy is versatile enough to use for more than one meal. Lean ground beef, ground turkey, and boneless skinless chicken breasts are all healthy choices with endless culinary options, and you can always set aside part to be frozen in an freezer-safe zipper bag. When it comes time to cook, make your meat go farther by adding other ingredients: mix rolled oats into your ground meat for burgers, stir fry your chicken with fresh veggies and serve over plenty of brown rice.