Is it possible to eat healthy on a small budget?
When you think of healthy foods what comes to mind? Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, salmon, and a higher price? An unfortunate reality is that many of these healthier choices are pricier than other options that don’t come with the same level of nutritional goodness. With food prices on the rise and your paycheck staying steady or even dropping, it’s often difficult to maintain a healthy diet. But difficult isn’t impossible.
Here are some practical tips to help you and your family eat healthy on a tight budget.
While you may think that processed, boxed foods are cheaper than unprocessed, this isn’t the case. Prepackaged, processed foods are usually more expensive and less healthy than buying the ingredients and making a meal from scratch. In fact, for your good health, it’s best to avoid foods out of boxes when possible. It may take more time, but cooking from scratch will reap huge health benefits.
Fruits and Veggies
The cheapest way to buy fruits and vegetables is frozen. They are often half the cost of fresh fruits and veggies and last much longer when kept in the freezer. They could also save you time since they are usually ready-cut and pre-washed. And while they’re not fresh, they provide all the same health perks as fresh fruits and vegetables.
If you’re going fresh, remember that fruits and vegetables are cheaper and tastier when in season. Think berries and broccoli in the summer, squash and apples in the fall and root veggies in winter.
Choosing the generic or store brand will reduce your grocery bill substantially. Fortunately for you, neatly every food out there now has a generic alternative.
You won’t be paying for the advertising and fancy packaging that come with name brands, but you’ll get the same good taste. In fact, many generic foods taste just as good and some people even prefer them.
If you prefer a name brand food, hunt down the best coupons to keep your grocery bill manageable. Also, take advantage of any discount grocery stores at your disposal. These stores may not have everything on your list, but checking them out first can help you eat healthily on the cheap.
Watch for sales or deals on staple foods such as rice, pasta, and oats. If possible, buy as much as you can to last a few months until the next sale.
Having food on hand will also keep you from last minute runs to the store where you might overspend just for convenience. Food available at home may also prevent you from eating out. As it’s easy to blow a week’s grocery budget in a night out, keeping plenty of good eats at home is essential for the budget-minded diner.
Before purchasing a food, compare price per unit. Sometimes big packages are cheaper than small. But not always. Sometimes, it’s a better deal to buy two small packages instead of one big one.
Grow Your Food
Cheaper than frozen and fresher than fresh is food from your own backyard. Many people enjoy the process and benefits of growing their own food. Whether a raised garden, container garden, a rented garden plot, fruit trees, or even raising chickens for fresh eggs, you’ll save money on food and perhaps learn a new hobby in the process.
Cheap Doesn’t Equal Unhealthy
Think cheap food is bad for you and you’ve got to spend lots of money to eat well? Not necessarily.
Healthy yet economical foods that can be used in a variety of ways and should be on your next grocery list include the following:
- brown rice
- whole-wheat pasta
- whole-wheat bread
- Greek yogurt
- oats for cereal or granola
- frozen vegetables
- Russet potatoes
- fresh spinach for salads
- canned tuna
- dried lentils for soups or salads
- And of course, when it comes to cheap, healthy drinks, water beats them all.
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