How many times have you heard people say, well I would eat healthier but it costs too much? Well, eating healthier does not necessarily mean breaking the bank. Here are some tips and ideas for a cheaper but healthier food plan.
- Planning: Plan your meals and menu for the week and buy your groceries according to that plan. This will not only save you time from not having to run out to the store several times during the week but also, if you stick to your list, you are less likely to spend money on items you really don’t need. Also if you plan meals according to your/your children’s schedule, you can pack healthy snacks, sandwiches, etc. to take with you instead of grabbing an unhealthy fast food fix on the road to their ballgame, dance recital or during your lunch break.
- Crock Pot Meals: Crock pot meals are great because you can set it up to be ready for you when you get home from a busy day and you can cook large portions of meats and veggies and have leftovers for lunch or dinner later that week.
- Buy whole foods: Unprocessed foods are cheaper and more nutritious than processed foods. They also give you total control over the ingredients. Avoid anything that comes from a box 90% of the time. Buy raw ingredients and cook food yourself than buying pre-packaged meals, snacks, and other food items.
- Proteins: Try tilapia – it is a versatile mild fish that is healthy and easy to prepare. Buy ground turkey/beef in bulk and freeze in small portions, choose rump steak, diced beef or stir-fry beef over more expensive cuts like sirloin or ribeye, frozen chicken breast or fresh chicken thighs, canned tuna (packed in water), cottage cheese, plain yogurt, eggs and milk. Also, beans, lentils and quinoa are also excellent sources of protein.
- Carbs: Replace bread and crackers with bananas, whole grain pasta, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, pumpkin, oats, beans, apples, bananas, raisins, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, brown rice and quinoa. Rice and quinoa can be bought in bulk quite cheaply, and one purchase will last you for weeks.
- Healthy fats: To get healthy fats into your diet without breaking the budget, choose foods like eggs, natural yogurt, ricotta cheese, olive oil and nuts. While oils and nuts might have a higher up-front cost, you only need small servings. This means they will last you a much longer time than other dietary fat options.
- Fruits and Veggies: Fruits and veggies are cheaper when they are “in season” stock up on them during this time and freeze them for other parts of the year. Also, speaking of freezing, frozen fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients and are cheaper and more convenient as well. Also, check out your local farmers market for fresh produce or plant a small garden and grow your own favorite seasonal fruits and veggies.
- Unnecessary purchases: $4 coffees (expensive and full of calories), bottled water, fancy ingredients you use once for an extravagant recipe, etc. – limit or cut these items out. Go through your food spending and see if you can identify unnecessary splurges that are putting you over budget. Once you’ve determined a few nonessential items, either get rid of them altogether or find a way to make them at home. Buy a good quality reusable mug or water bottle, and fill them up before you leave the house in the morning. Buy items in bulk that can be used for many different recipes throughout the week and don’t waste money on items that you could easily do without.
These are just a few things you can do to cut back costs but not on health. There is also a new store chain popping up called Sprouts Farmer’s Market. Their slogan is “It’s healthy living for less”. Check out their web page at https://www.sprouts.com/