Eating well doesn’t have to be expensive. You can reduce your food budget and keep a healthy diet by making smart choices and cooking most of the food at home. Many staple foods can be bought in bulk, and fresh produce can often be bought on sale. Plus, if you make meals ahead of time and freeze them, you can really increase your food buying value.
Staple Foods To Stock Your Pantry
Pasta is a super cheap food that can fill out your diet and give you the calories you need. Obviously it is important to moderate how much you eat, because the carbohydrate content in pasta can widen your waistline before you know it. Pasta with tomato sauce is a delicious meal that’s light on the wallet.
Rice is another great staple you can buy in bulk and not worry about expiring. Rice goes good with chicken and veggies, and is easy to make. It also has a good amount of dietary fiber, that aids digestion.
Potatoes are the world’s fourth largest food crop. There are many ways to prepare and eat potatoes, and all of them are delicious. Twice baked potatoes are my personal favorite, but they also go great in soups or in casseroles. Potatoes have lots of phytochemicals, which some studies suggest can improve heart health and prevent cancer.
Oatmeal has a high fiber content, and has been shown to lower blood cholesterol. You can buy it in bulk and eat it for breakfast with fresh fruit, or you can even use it in baking recipes. It’s a great staple food to have on hand, and it has lots of health benefits.
Fruits And Vegetables On a Budget
Fresh fruits and veggies can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fit them into your food budget. One common mistake people make is buying too much fresh produce when going to the grocery store. Pick a few things you like and that you know you will eat quickly.
Baby carrots, celery, and broccoli
Baby carrots, celery, and broccoli are all good vegetables you can snack on or include in a meal. Figure out how much you will actually eat and make sure not to over-buy. Vegetables like these (or fresh lettuce, for that matter) are often on sale, so switch up what you buy each week based on what is cheapest. That way you’ll get variety while also saving money.
Bananas, Watermelon and Oranges
Bananas are easily the cheapest fruit to buy, but they also go bad fast, so make sure you don’t buy too many and eat the ones you have to avoid throwing them out and wasting money. Watermelon, honeydew, and oranges are also cheap fruits that taste great and give you the vitamins you need.
Eggs, Dairy, and Meats
Eggs are a great food that are full of nutrients, minerals, and protein. You can eat them for breakfast, and they are a common ingredient in many recipes. Even if you prefer organic eggs, they are a relatively inexpensive and incredibly versatile food. Buy them by the dozen and eat one or two a day for a high value addition to your diet.
Dairy products like milk and yogurt provide calcium and protein, and can be bought without breaking your budget. Everyone has a different level of tolerance for lactose (the milk sugar in dairy products) so make sure you know how much dairy you can handle and plan your diet accordingly.
Meat can be expensive, but if you are on the lookout for deals you can find some that is affordable. A whole chicken can make several meals, and if you see one on sale you can freeze it and use it later.
Cook and Freeze
Although microwaving leftovers isn’t quite as elegant as having a fresh meal every night, cooking in bulk and freezing portion size containers can help stretch your budget a long way. Try making lasagnas, casseroles, enchiladas, or even soups, and freeze the leftovers. Making a huge batch of a meal you like and freezing enough for a month can help you save money, just make sure not to eat all the servings before the month is over.
If you are trying to eat healthy while staying on a budget, remember that you don’t have to sacrifice your health to save money. Even when your wallet is a little thin, you can eat right and feel good.