Health should not be a privilege. Your access to healthy meals shouldn’t depend on your income. Sometimes it seems like in order to buy the latest health products or to eat organic, you need to empty your bank account. Many specialty health stores are known for their outrageous prices, while bargain supermarkets seem to carry only junk food and processed snacks.
It’s not impossible to eat healthy on a budget. Whole, nutrient-packed foods don’t need to come from expensive specialty stores. From frozen fruit to bulk grains, you can get nutrition without breaking the bank. Check out our top 7 tips for eating healthy on a budget.
1. Check out the frozen produce.
Many of us prefer fresh fruit and veggies because they’re full of color and flavor. Unfortunately, fresh also means they don’t keep for very long. Consider frozen fruits and vegetables a healthy, budget-conscious alternative. You won’t waste any money on food that goes bad before you eat it.
Buying frozen also means you can buy in bulk. Many wholesale retailers carry large bags of mixed veggies that are perfect for stir-frys. Another benefit to buying frozen is that your fruit is smoothie ready! No more adding ice that waters down your green smoothies.
2. Buy frozen chicken.
You can save money by purchasing large bags of lean frozen chicken. Look for chicken breast without the skin to keep things extra-healthy. Chicken is a protein-packed ingredient that you can use in every meal. It’s also much more economical than other protein sources.
3. Go crazy for legumes.
Beans and lentils are packed with hunger-quenching fiber and muscle-building protein. They also happen to be super cheap! A bag of beans is an inexpensive investment that will last a long time. Beans are incredibly versatile, meaning this one ingredient can be used in a variety of healthy recipes. You can even use beans to make no-flour brownies!
4. Plan your meals.
A little bit of meal planning can make a huge difference. When you know exactly what dishes you will be preparing, it’s easy to keep yourself from buying food that will rot. Meal planning is also essential when switching to a healthier diet. Having a set meal plan keeps you from resorting to fast food and quick microwavable meals.
Before grocery day, make a rough outline of the meals you will be preparing that week. This also gives you time to check for items you already own.
5. Pack your lunch.
If you spend $5 on lunch five days a week, it comes out to over $100 per month. For five dollars, you can buy a bag of mixed greens with some healthy vinaigrette, or a loaf of whole grain bread and some deli meat that will feed you for several days. Whenever possible, pack lunch instead of eating out. This will save both money and calories. Try these 21 Clean Lunches in Under 10 Minutes.
6. Shop at the Farmer’s Market
While this isn’t true for all cities, some farmer’s markets offer better deals on fresh produce. Check out your local farmer’s market to compare prices and learn about all the fruits and vegetables grown in your area.
7. Stay away from brand names.
Just as with clothes, you often pay more for recognizable names in the grocery store. Many brands go out of their way to make their product seem the most natural and healthy. This isn’t always true. Many stores carry generic products that are just as good and just as healthy as the big names.
How do you eat healthy on a budget? Join the SkinnyMs. conversation! Leave a comment in the section below.