How to Eat Healthy On a Budget


How to Eat Healthy On a Budget

Mar 17, 2015 //

It would only take you a few minutes at a local health food store for you to conclude that healthy eating can get pricey. But that’s not always the case! You don’t need expensive health food products and organic snack foods to eat healthy!

To keep your grocery bill manageable, focus on creating home cooked meals made with whole ingredients. By preparing your meals at home and following these clever shopping tips, you might find that eating healthier could even save you money!

Avoid Convenience Foods

Food manufacturers love to cash in on your busy schedule! There are many pre-made health food products that can save you some time but cost you big bucks. For example, a bag of pre-washed and cut broccoli crowns might save you five minutes of prep work but they can be priced two- to three-times higher than a crown of uncut broccoli.

Buy in Season

You’ll save money and will enjoy higher quality produce by shopping for fruits and veggies that are in season. When produce is in season, it’s in abundance and is therefore priced lower then when it is out of season.

Plus, eating in-season is good for you and the environment. By including a wide range of different fruits in veggies in your diet throughout the year, you give yourself the full range vitamins and minerals your body needs. In-season produce is easier on the environment because it can be grown and sold without too much added human assistance (i.e. pesticides, genetic modification) or lengthy transport. Not to mention that in-season items tend to taste fresh and delicious!

Choose Affordable Protein

Protein intake is important to maintaining a healthy weight and repairing muscle tissue after a good workout. But popular healthy protein sources like wild-caught salmon and boneless, skinless chicken breast can balloon your grocery bill. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to purchase healthy proteins that will help you build muscle without going broke:

  • Shop Online for Protein Powder: You can often save money on high quality brands by buying in bulk or getting a monthly subscription.

  • Experiment with Different Cuts of Meat: Some less popular and less expensive cuts of meat and poultry are just as nutritious as the more expensive cuts. For instance, skinless chicken thighs are a great source of protein and are usually much cheaper than breasts.

  • Eat Beans: Beans are a good source of protein, and you can buy a bag of dried beans for under $2. Beans are versatile and go well with most cuisines. Plus they’re loaded with heart-healthy fiber.

  • Pay Attention to Sales: If your local market is offering a great price break on grass-fed ground beef, buy several pounds and store it in your freezer.

Plan Ahead

Before you set foot in the market, have a grocery list in-hand. A firm plan will prevent you from overbuying perishable food and impulse buying high-priced convenience foods. That can save you serious cash!

The first step in making a money-saving grocery list is checking out the store’s weekly ad to see what’s on sale and what’s in-season. Once you have a good idea of what ingredients are priced right, you can plan various recipes to cook throughout the week. Use the ingredient list on each recipe to create your list of items to purchase.

The Dirty Dozen

Many people who are concerned about contaminants from pesticides and chemicals involved in modern farming choose to buy certified organic foods. There is a wonderful array of organic products available to shoppers but many of them come with a hefty price tag.

If you’re concerned about your family’s exposure to inorganic compounds and are budget conscious you should learn a about the Dirty Dozen. The dirty dozen is a list of 12 fruit and veggies that the Environmental Working Group has found to have the highest levels of pesticide residues. If you only have the budget to buy some organic foods, make it these ones:

The Dirty Dozen

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Grapes (Imported)
  10. Spinach
  11. Lettuce
  12. Potatoes

Buy in Bulk

When you’re consistently making home-cooked meals, it makes since to buy staple ingredients in bulk. Super stores like Costco and Sam’s Club may have aisles lined with monster bags of chips and cookies but they also offer great deals on healthy ingredients like olive oil, almonds and fresh produce. Check out this healthy Costco shopping list from 100 Days of Real Food to get ideas on how to save!

Shopping sensibly and eating healthy go hand-in-hand. Healthy home cooking can keep your budget and your body in great shape!

Erika Volk

Erika is a certified personal trainer, Nutrition Coach, and fitness writer. She holds certifications from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), TRX Suspension Training Systems, Precision Nutrition. She specializes in creating gym-free workouts.

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