Healthy Food on a Budget
By Cassandra Forsythe-Pribanic, PhD, RD
Times are tough, and for some people, spending money on organic and specialty food items is just not a possibility.
But, these people also don’t want to eat potato chips and hot dogs for dinner, and are looking for solutions to eat better without breaking the bank.
Here are our Top 9 Ways to Eat Healthy On a Budget and ensure your body stays healthy and fit!
1. Make your grocery list based off recipes/meals you plan to eat for the week.
Decide what you're going to make for the week and then buy for those recipes or meals.
This is not only time-efficient, but prevents you from buying things you MIGHT make, but don't get around to, and then end up throwing away.
Also, don't hesitate to buy something that's on sale for a very low price and modify your plan for the week so you can save some dough. You’ll eat well, and spend less while being resourceful!
2. Canned Fish and Beans = High Protein and Fiber
From Tuna to Salmon, to Black Beans to Kidney Beans, canned fish and beans can be one of your easiest and most inexpensive ways to get healthy omega-3 rich protein (the fish) and cholesterol-lowering fiber (the beans).
One can of light tuna (the least expensive kind and lowest mercury kind) is only 79 cents, while a can of black beans can be found for just $1 (containing at least 2 servings)!
Yes, both contain sodium which can be problematic for some people, but you can easily rinse off some of the salt when you open them using a strainer. If you mix them both together and top them with a touch of mustard or chopped tomatoes (also not too expensive when bought fresh), you’ve got yourself a great meal!
3. Frozen Veggies are Healthy!
Many people fret that fresh veggies are not affordable, and they don’t last long enough to make them worthwhile.
The solution: Buy frozen!
Avoid those microwave bags of veggies though (questionable safety…) and instead, purchase the less expensive ones that you cook on the stove or in a microwave-safe dish (not plastic!).
You can cook them anytime and not worry about them spoiling before you can eat them and being a waste of money.
4. Look for Produce or Other Grocery Items with a "Close to Expiry" Discount.
When you do want to purchase fresh vegetables or fruits, you can sometimes find a great deal if they are close to being thrown out (but are still good; like brown bananas).
For example, if you are a spinach lover, you can find containers of organic spinach with a $2 discount because they are close to their due date. You may have to toss a few slimy leaves, but the rest will be gone before it’s a waste of your money.
There are great deals on other grocery items like low-sodium organic canned soups, and healthy fruit and nut bars that you may not be able to afford otherwise, but will still taste great! Look for tables of reduced-priced items the next time you’re out shopping, and you may be surprised!
5. Buy Fruits and Vegetables in Season
Purchasing fresh berries in the winter is just silly.
Not only will you spend an arm and a leg to get them, you won’t be getting the freshest options because they were shipped to you from hundreds (or thousands) of miles away.
Instead, look for produce in season, like apples and squash in the fall, or berries in the SUMMER. Not only will you pay less, but it will taste better too!
In the winter, when most produce is not in season, choose frozen, untainted fruits and vegetables (no butter, sugar, etc.) for the best options.
6. Avoid Pre-Cut Items, like cut Apples, or Pre-cut Green Beans
Yes, these items may be convenient, but they’ll cost you at least double the unprepared versions.
It’s not that hard to cut your own apples, or slice your own squash, and you avoid any preservatives that are added to these vegetables and fruits to prevent browning.
7. Use the Shelf Stickers that List the Price of the Item per Weight
It’s amazing how many people don’t realize that many stores list the price of an item per weight so you can accurately compare between different brands or different sizes of the same product.
For example, a 16 oz container of rolled oats from one company is $0.17 per oz and $2.69. But, a 42 oz container of oats from another company is only $0.11 per oz and $3.79.
So, even though you may pay more for the large canister, you get more food for your money! Use these labels at the store to help you choose the best option.
8. Visit Discount Grocery Stores for the Best Deals
There are many discount stores and bulk stores that give you the best deals for your buck. These store sometimes require a membership, but now some do not. They sell the products at a lower price because they avoid the fancy store decorations, the overpaid dietitians giving nutrition advice, and ask you to bag your own groceries (not really a big issue).
In some cases you can save up to $20 for the same cart of groceries as a higher end grocery store! Some examples of these stores are Sam’s Clubs, BJs, Costco, and ALDI – look for them next time you head out shopping.
9. Finally - Get a Tasty Whey Protein Powder
Many people think supplements are too expensive if your wallet is tight, but think about this:
One serving of high-quality whey protein – something that keeps you satisfied and actually improves your health – only costs about $2 to $3 each!
That’s at least 25 grams of complete protein for only $2.50 that supplies you with all the essential amino acids for proper muscle recovery and tummy-filling protein to help you stay full for hours!
NEXT: The Cost Effective Way To Boost Calorie Burning >>
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