It’s no lie that buying healthy food on a budget is difficult. While processed food may be cheaper to buy, it costs more in the long run in terms of health. Eating poor quality foods will impact on your quality of life, as your energy levels can be thrown all over the place by the large levels of sugar found in processed foods. It will also cost you in later life, with higher medical bills due to preventable ailments.
We look at healthy eating as an investment, something to be enjoyed now, which will also benefit you in the future. With that in mind, there are several strategies you can employ to save yourself money when eating healthy.
- Take stock – Before going shopping, check your cupboards and refrigerator to see what you already have on hand. Many people forget about the dried goods at the back of the cupboard, but these are perfect to use as a base for a healthy meal. Use them before go bad!
- Plan your meals – It’s surprising how much easier eating gets when you have a plan! Knowing what you will be eating for the next few days or week will allow you to buy only what you need when you go to the store, saving you time and money.
- Take advantage of offers – It’s a good idea to stock up on items which will keep, such as frozen and canned foods, and dried goods like rice or oats. Frozen and canned foods are just as nutritious as fresh, but have the advantage of being cheaper and will not spoil. Keep an eye out for flyers or use apps such as Flipp which will inform you of the deals and coupons currently on offer in your local stores.
- Compare unit prices – Unit prices will be displayed on the shelf, and will help you decide if it’s worth buying a larger quantity of the item. Remember to only buy bigger if you will use it before it goes bad, otherwise there is no saving. Also be sure to look at the top and bottom of the store shelf, as the most expensive products are usually placed at eye-level.
- Serve appropriate portions – Most Americans are already eating portions which are too large, particularly of meat, which is also expensive. Bulk out your meat recipes with pulses like lentils to reduce the amount of meat you need, while still providing protein.
- Don’t follow food fads – With the rise in healthy eating and the wellness industry, it can be easy to think that you are not eating healthy unless you are having rare and exotic ingredients which are usually very expensive. Focus on buying regular fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products which will give you all the nutrition you need.
- Buy store-brand products – There is no nutritional benefit to eating big name brands over their generic counterparts, and well-known brands are usually much more expensive.
- Look at your overall budget – If you look at your overall spending, you may be able to identify areas where you could save money which could be spent on eating healthier. For example, spending $3 per day on coffee adds up to over $20 dollars per week, which could buy a lot of healthy foods!
Here are our favorite budget recipes to make healthy eating easy on your wallet. Also here’s a blog post on how to save on organic food. Finally, learn how to stretch out your dollars with our video series “3 Recipes for $40”: Potato & Rosemary Risotto, Beth’s Tomato Soup and Turkey Sausage Bolognese.