Eating healthy—lots of vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and whole grains—is something we all should strive for.
That said, when you’re on a tight budget, eating healthy can be quite expensive.
Nonetheless, just because your running low on money does not inherently mean that your diet should run low on nutrients.
In today’s post, I’ll share with you eight clever tips to help you eat healthy on a budget.
So, are you excited?
Then here we go.
8 Smart Ways to Eat Healthy on a Tight Budget
1. Always Meal Plan
Whether it’s tomorrow’s dinner, or nuts for snacks, preparing your meals in advance is a step in the right direction.
This simple measure can make a big difference in reducing your food costs while also helping you stay on the healthy eating track.
As a result, take one to two hours over the weekend to go through your favorite healthy recipes and plan out your meal schedule for the upcoming week.
2. Embrace Simple Real Food
Often than not, food with zero packaging, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and uncooked rice—cost less than their pre-chopped, prepared, or prepackaged counterparts.
For instance, canned beans are cheaper than refried ones, and a block of cheese costs less than a shredded option.
Also, whole grains, such as oats and brown rice, are less expensive per serving than most processed cereals.
So, be sure to minimize packaged and processed foods.
For example, get whole grain pasta, and rice then cook them at home instead of going for the packaged route.
3. Look for Discounts
Sure, it takes a little bit of time to find some awesome deals, but it could end up being worth your while.
Do the following:
- Ask your local stores if they have a discount or loyalty card, or if they offer discount prices at night.
- Take advantage of the “buy one get one free,” and the “buy one get the other for a discounted price” deals.
- Senior citizens, military members, students, and certain professions, such as firefighters, and teaches, may be granted a discount. So it does not hurt to ask.
- Visit Retail Me Not for online promotional codes and discounts for all of your chosen online stores.
- Join grocery store loyalty programs for discounts. For example, if you join Earth Fare’s Healthy Reward program, you’ll get a dollar back for every 100 points you earn.
As a side note, this strategy only works when you actually love and consume the product—otherwise, this could lead to food waste.
4. Try to Buy in Bulk
Although it costs more upfront to buy in bulk, doing so can actually save you a lot of pennies in the long run—especially when you have promos running.
Bulk buying also cuts the amount of time spent in the aisles on ensuing shopping trips, and keeps your pantry stocked with healthy foods.
Grains, such as millet, brown rice, oats, and barley, are all available in bulk, and are easy to stockpile, too.
You can also order non-perishable items, such as shredded coconuts, coconut flour, olive oil, coconut oil, almond flour, herbal teas, in bulk from some supermarkets at a discount.
5. Get Seasonal Vegetables
Not only food grown in season tastes better, it’s also way cheaper.
For instance, cabbage costs a few pennies a pound from farmers when in season.
So, take advantage of it.
Get berries and broccoli in the summer. Squash and apples in the fall. Root veggies in the winter, etc.
Other items that are cheap in season and also store well include peppers, tomatoes, and salads.
Next, stock on your favorite vegetables for months when they’re no longer readily available.
The local farmer’s market is the idea source of seasonal veggies.
6. Hit The Farmer’s Market
Produce at farmers markets may not always cheaper, but you get high-quality and tastier food that, often than not, was picked just days ago.
You’ll also find veggies and fruits you’ve never seen before, and in varieties and shapes you didn’t even know existed.
The one trick I use to get relatively cheaper produce is to head to the farmers market at the end of the day.
More specifically, about an hour before they closed.
During these last stretches, the farmers start to slash prices since they want to unload the extra produce before they close up for the day.
Don’t know where to find one?
7. Cook At Home
It does not take a genius to gather that cooking one’s own meals is a lot cheaper than eating out.
Cooking your own meals is also a surefire way to eat nothing but healthy items since you have complete control over the ingredients.
When eating out, in contrast, you’re usually getting food that contains more fat and salt, and less fiber, veggies, and fruits than the home-made dishes.
To save time, consider cooking most of your meals—or get the ingredient ready, at the very least—during the weekend or before going to bed.
8. Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry
If you hit the supermarket while hungry, chances are you’ll stray from your grocery list and buy something on impulse.
In fact, shopping with stomach pangs is the recipe for overspending at the grocery store.
When we are famished, we typically crave junk and procced items that aren’t good for us.
And that’s not just my subjective observation.
Research revealed that going shopping when hungry makes it more likely to buy calorie-dense foods.
So, eat a solid meal before you go shopping.
Or, if that’s not possible, then at the very least, have a few nuts, a piece of fruit, yogurt, whole-wheat bread, or other healthy snacks before you hit the store.