It is a challenge in grocery shopping and meal planning if you have a tight budget in your pockets. Also, if you want to eat healthy foods, then that is where the worse challenge comes in. Living healthy such as building muscle and losing fat requires eating healthy foods. What do we take to maintain or build muscles? We take proteins. What do we need to have energy? We need carbohydrates. If we want fiber, minerals and vitamins in our body, what should we eat? We eat fruits and vegetables. All these can be found in your local grocery store’s healthy food section, but I will be lying if I say that it’s highly affordable. In fact, the prices of these kinds of foods are rising quickly. You may not notice it now, but soon enough you will. Don’t worry because you are lucky enough that you’re reading this article. I will share you few tips on: how to eat healthy if you are on a tight budget?
How To Eat Healthy On A Budget?
1. Mark Your Calendars
It will cost you cheaper if you buy fresh produce during its season. There will be a lot of supply of that certain produce causing the vendors to decrease its price to equalize it with the ongoing demand. So take that opportunity because even though you won’t be using it immediately, you always have your freezer. Simply freeze it. I know fresh produce had always been the best but if you are on a tight budget, freezing your produce is not too bad at all. Another good thing about marking your calendar is that you won’t forget all the sales in your local shops. We usually shop for the food listed on our weekly or monthly meal plan. I suggest that instead of this it is better if you make your meal plans according to what is on sale. Don’t forget to check the sales on frozen vegetables. Also, if you are grocery shopping in the same stores every week, it is good if you sign up on savings card they offer.
2. Be Wise In Choosing Meat
If you are a meat lover, you can still enjoy being one. If you are on a tight budget be wise in choosing the cheapest cut of meat. For example instead of buying chicken breasts, look for a less expensive cut of chicken meat such as chicken thighs. This is also a best way for you to try different cooking methods. I suggest that you use a crock-pot because it does a good job in turning cheap cuts of meat such as chuck roast and pork shoulders, into a tender and juicy meal. Here are some examples of less expensive cuts of meat for you: skin-on, bone-in, organ meats (more nutritious), tougher cuts of red meat, lamb neck fillets, shin of beef, whole chickens, pork belly and cheeks.
3. Embrace Beans And Whole Grains
There are lots of beans and whole grains that are very inexpensive, can bulk up your meals and even be a meal alone. Few examples are: brown rice, black beans, whole wheat couscous, wheat berries, freekeh and quinoa. The best part is these can also help in weight loss because they keep you full longer than other foods.
4. Plan And Prepare Meals Ahead
In our house, we cook a lot of dishes on Sundays. It is a good way for family bonding plus we can save time and money. We cook food that lasts for the whole week. I suggest that you do the same. All you have to do is plan for your meals and prepare it days before. Just put it inside your refrigerator so that you can simply heat it up for tomorrow’s meal and also for the next days.
5. Learn The Mexican And Indian Cuisines
These cuisines are mostly composed of beans and rice, which is less expensive. Also, these cuisines use less meat and use interchangeable ingredients. In that way, you will have fewer ingredients to waste. Some examples of Mexican food loaded with protein and fiber are burritos and tortilla.
6. Keep Your Fridge And Pantry Organized
It is always great to keep leftovers inside your refrigerator but it will not make any sense if you forgot about them. I suggest that you label all the leftovers; you can use a tape and a sharpie for that. It is best if you write what’s inside and also include the date you placed it inside your refrigerator. In that way you can minimize food waste and spend less in buying more food to eat.
7. Try Supplements
Supplements make your life easier plus they are very cheap. Even though whole food is better, you can still use supplements just make sure that your diet is not composed of unprocessed foods. The cheapest protein you can buy is whey; 24 grams of protein per 30 grams of serving. Fish oil is cheaper than fish but a teaspoon of it contains 1600mg of omega-3. If you buy supplements, a bag or bottle of it will last for weeks.
8. Repurpose Leftovers
We can’t prevent the fact that sometimes eating the same food over and over again will result to loss of appetite. This is because you are not used in eating the same meal for the entire week and you are craving for new and delicious meals. This does not hinder you from saving because you can always repurpose leftovers. Most of your leftovers can be made into a delicious soup and would be great with bread. Also, if you have meatloaf, meatballs, or any roasted meat then you can simply make a sandwich, a pot pie or you can use it in cooking fried rice.
9. Give Time In Visiting The Farmers’ Market
Consider visiting the nearest farmer’s market at the end of the day because it is a place where you can usually score great deals. I suggest that you go there an hour before they close because they will sell it at a lower price.
10. Shop At Ethnic Markets
Greek, Lebanese and Chinese markets are only few examples of ethnic supermarkets that are great sources for interesting ingredients. Not only that, inside ethnic supermarkets, you are likely to find a bargain on their products. An Asian market is a good place to buy cheap noodles. Other supermarkets sell it with a very expensive price. You will be surprised with what you will see: cheap condiments, sauces and produce.
11. Buy Whole Foods
It would be less expensive and more nutritious if you prefer to buy unprocessed food rather than processed ones. Also, you can be in control of whatever ingredients you will use in cooking unprocessed foods. Always avoid buying meals in a box. Here are some examples of healthy unprocessed foods:
- Proteins: calves’ liver, ground beef, cottage cheese, tuna cans, eggs, milk, frozen chicken breast
- Carbohydrates: raisins, rice, bananas, cabbage, pasta, potatoes, oats, apples, broccoli, beans, spinach
- Fats: fish oil, olive oil, mixed nuts, butter, flax seeds
12. Choose Cheap Proteins
To build and maintain your muscle, you need one gram of protein per pound of your body weight everyday. Also, protein has a higher thermic effect compared to other foods that is why eating protein can help you loss fat. So instead of salmon and steaks, eat foods with a lot of protein such as milk, eggs, whey, tuna, calves’ liver, mackerel, cottage cheese and frozen chicken breast.
13. Buy Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
As a matter of fact, frozen fruits and vegetables can contain more nutrients rather than fresh ones if it was frozen right when picked. Also, it can save you time since frozen foods are pre-cut and pre-washed. You can buy it in bulk orders without worrying that it won’t last long because frozen foods have almost infinite shelf life especially if kept inside the freezer. Usually, fresh fruits and vegetables cost two times more than frozen ones. I suggest you buy frozen berries so that when you’re hungry you can simply unfreeze it in your microwave and serve with cottage cheese. There are also a lot of recipes you can try, just put your frozen vegetable in a colander one night before you cook it.
14. Clip Coupons
If you see coupons from Grocery Coupon Guides, print it. Also, you can cut out coupons from newspapers. This will only take less of your effort, but will really save your money.
15. Buy Generic Food
Most foods are expensive because of the advertising and packaging of the product. If you get used in buying raw foods like pasta, eggs, rice, cottage cheese, milk and frozen fruits and vegetables you will realize that it’s not bad at all.
16. Purchase In Bulk
You should always remember to buy in bulk especially if you have promos running. Buy as much as you can as long as you can afford it and stock it in your house. There are a lot of foods that are easy to stock such as rice, pasta and oats. Also, you can have a free delivery and discounts if you buy in bulk, if you can’t consume it all then split the cost with your friends and families. Mixed spinach, beans, broccoli and berries are also available in stores for a cheaper price. You can save time, money and effort if you buy in bulk.
17. Choose Calorie Dense Foods
This is very effective if you want to grow bigger. There are a lot of calorie dense foods that are easy to stockpile such as: potatoes, rice, whole milk, pasta and oats plus the fact that these are filling and healthy.
18. Buy Discounted Meat
Always check the meat section of your local grocery stores because if meats are about to expire, they sell it in a discounted price by up to 70%. You can buy a lot of meat during this period and simply keep it frozen.
19. Buy Everything From One Place
If you are on a tight budget; don’t only spend less on foods but also on other expenses such as your fuel. Just look for one or two stores where you can buy less expensive foods. If you spend most of your time looking for sales in all the stores then maybe you’ll end up going back to the first store you visited. Just shop in one or two stores and mark your calendars when will there be sales in those grocery stores.
20. Eat Less Calories
This is effective for fat ones. While you are losing your fat, at the same time you are also saving your money. Think about it, you will be saving your money and making yourself healthy.
21. Drink Tap Water
It will only cost you $8 to filter forty gallons of tap water. Stop buying bottled water, fruit juice or soda.
22. Choose Wisely, Live Well
You should always remember to be wise in choosing. It is a mind set that bigger packages are cheaper than buying a lot of smaller ones. But it wouldn’t harm if you take time in reading the servings and the price of the different packaging, sometimes two smaller boxes are cheaper than a big one.
23. Prepare Your Own Food
Control everything in your meal. You can cook in the morning or before you sleep it will only take you up to one hour. The good thing is you know that you are eating a healthy meal. If possible, make everything home made such as protein bars, pizza and tomato sauce. Always learn to cook from scratch; this is the best way that you can have the cheapest meal.
24. Avoid Impulse Buying
This is one of the problems we have when we go shopping. The best way to avoid this is planning. Don’t go grocery shopping if you are undecided. Make a list, everything you need not everything you want. What should be included in your list are the ingredients of the food that you are going to cook for the next week or month. Before you go to the grocery store eat a solid meal to prevent yourself from buying what you want to eat. If possible, don’t bring your husband or children; they will usually add more items in your list.
25. Stop Buying Food Outside
If you prepare your own food, then you are preventing yourself from eating less healthy and more expensive food outside. You are in control of the ingredients so you can always choose to use healthy and cheap ones. If you are working, take food with you in your office. Always remember to eat before leaving your house.
26. Grow Your Own Food
This is the best thing that you can do if you want to save your money. This is less expensive than frozen fruits and vegetables and at the same time you know that your food is freshly picked from your backyard. You can plant whatever you want and buy chickens so you can have free eggs.
Who says healthy eating on a budget is impossible? Now you have a lot of idea how to keep yourself healthy and keep your money inside your wallet.