How to eat healthy on a budget
Contrary to popular belief, living on a diet of takeaways and junk food is not the only way to eat on a budget. This how to eat healthy on a budget guide will give you all the tips you need to eat healthy without it costing you the same as your weekly rent or mortgage. So often I hear people complain that it costs more to eat healthy, but I have found the opposite to be true! The price of takeaway these days is extremely high, plus have you ever take a look at the per kg price of a packet of chips or chocolate bar compared with in season fruit or vegetables? Chances are, the healthier option will come out as the cheaper of the two.
1. Buy in season
This tips is something that makes a massive impact on our weekly grocery budget. As a family we go through a huge amount of fruit and vegetables, and our grocery bill would be unsustainable high if we loaded the trolley up with expensive, out of season produce. Instead, plan your meals and snacks based on the season. For example, in summer we eat a lot of salads given vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers are so cheap, and in winter we go through a huge amount of sweet potato, pumpkin and broccoli. The same goes for fruit.
Before heading to the shop, first determine which fresh produce is in season and on sale, then spend a little time putting together a meal plan based on these items. I find Pinterest to be a great source of inspiration, and also be sure to check out the budget recipe section of our website.
2. Learn to love the freezer isle
The range of frozen fruits and vegetables in the supermarket freezer isles have improved so much over the last few years. Our local supermarket now stocks things like frozen diced pumpkin, diced avocado, sliced strawberries and mango chunks. Often these will be cheaper than in the fresh produce section, and also mean that you can easily buy some items out of season. Always check the unit price between the frozen and fresh sections of your supermarket.
3. Don’t buy things just because they are on sale
If you flick through the weekly supermarket catalogues you will notice they always feature a large amount of half price specials, which sounds like a bargain. It’s never a bargain if the discount is on things you didn’t need in the first place. If you actually take note of which products are regularly half price, you will probably notice that they are usually processed, packaged, unhealthy food items, such as packets of chips and bottles of soft drink, things you definitely don’t need to be buying if you are trying to eat healthily.
4. Pack your lunch
This is one of the most quoted savings tips, probably because it is a great way to save money. Purchase healthy lunches can be so expensive, so you are guaranteed to save thousands per year if you make your own salads, wraps and sandwiches. If you are short on time in the mornings before work, just set a few minutes aside the night before to prepare your lunch.
5. Stop drinking soft drinks
It’s common knowledge that soft drinks, along with fruit juices and other sweetened drinks, are really not good for us. Not only are they unhealthy, but they can also become a costly habit if you buying buying several bottles per week. Nothing beats tap water for price and it’s health benefits. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, consider getting a water filter or even a drink bottle with an inbuilt filter.
6. Don’t let junk food enter your house
The easiest way to avoid eating junk food is to simply not let it enter your house. Many people struggle to not eat unhealthy foods if they are just sitting in the cupboard or fridge, so fill your house with healthy foods and you will have no choice but to eat them. The best way to do this is to create a shopping list before every trip to the grocery store and stick to it!
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7. Buy in bulk
If you go through a large amount of certain foods, do a little research to see if you can buy them in bulk. Warehouse style supermarkets such as Costco are a great way to buy in bulk. Just be sure to check the unit price before buying to make sure it really is a bargain compared with smaller pack sizes.
8. Prepare your own food
It seems that you can buy just about everything pre prepared these days, especially if you take a look in the fresh produce section filled with things like pre-cut celery sticks, carrot sticks, apples slices and sliced mushrooms. Preparing foods yourself will take a few minutes of your time, but will result in significant cost savings.
9. Eat at home as much as possible
Not only is eating at home far cheaper than eating out, but it also gives you the ability to control exactly what goes into your food. There is nothing wrong with going out for a treat, just don’t make a habit of eating out multiple times per week.
10. Bulk up your meals with vegetables
I love to bulk up meals with both in season vegetables and canned beans. Try adding grated carrot, sweet potato or zucchini to meat sauces. Not only does this up the vegetable content of your meal, but it also stretches the meal further, meaning you can use less meat!