Eating healthy everyday is the goal for most of us, so why does it feel so hard sometimes? Well, in truth, sometimes eating healthy requires a lot of time, effort, money, and commitment. Convenience is not quite as easy to achieve – or so you might think.
While it’s true that healthy eating can be time-consuming and expensive, it doesn’t have to be. With practice and some strategy, you can reduce the amount of time you spend cooking, and save money at the grocery store, all while making healthy, wholesome choices. Here are five easy steps that you can start on today, to help you make easy healthy choices on a budget:
Plan Ahead & Make a List:
Make a plan for what your meals are going to look like for the week, and exactly what you need to buy to make it happen. Don’t waste money on extra things you don’t need, or on food that might go to waste! Invest time into meal planning and preparation to save time, money, and energy later.
In-season produce will always be the more budget friendly option AND more tasty. This is for a couple of reasons:
- When produce is grown in-season, growing conditions are more favorable, and the crop has a higher yield. More fruits and vegetables to go around mean that grocery stores will usually price them cheaper and put them on sale so they leave the shelves before they go bad!
- When fruits and vegetables are grown in-season, growing conditions result in better size, taste, and texture, which makes them taste even better! Think strawberries in the summer, or squash in the winter.
- In-season produce usually travels a shorter distance to the grocery store. Produce doesn’t need to be picked quite so early, and that it doesn’t have to sit traveling on a truck for such a long amount of time. This means that the fruits and vegetables will maintain their taste and nutrient quality better than out-of-season produce!
There are tons of resources out there to help you figure out what fruits and vegetables are currently in season – do a quick Google search to determine the seasonal produce for your region.
Look for sales and make substitutions:
Lists are a great first step to keep yourself accountable to your budget, but how can you continue to save at the grocery store? Knowing how to make quick substitutions is the name of the game. Maybe you planned to use zucchini in your stir fry, but broccoli is on sale – easy sub! You were planning on making brussels sprouts as a side dish for dinner tonight, but swiss chard is in-season and a much cheaper choice? Sub it! Making substitutions can be tricky at first, especially if you like to closely follow recipes. Practice going outside your comfort zone by purchasing on-sale fruits and vegetables that you wouldn’t normally buy.
Freeze your produce & leftovers:
Freezing food is a great way to extend its shelf life, reduce food waste, and save money (food in the trash is money in the trash!). When certain produce items are nearing the end of their time in the refrigerator, don’t throw them away. Chop them up for easy use later, and throw them in the freezer! Freeze your berries, bananas, and spinach to throw in a smoothie for breakfast. Take frozen green beans and zucchini, and roast them in the oven, just like you would if it were fresh. You’ll love reducing food and money waste, and having some extra produce in the freezer. You can do the same for leftovers, too! While not all leftovers are great for the freezer (i.e. cooked cuts of meat, roasted vegetables, etc.), there are many that are! Try pasta dishes, soups, casseroles, and more. And, not to mention, using frozen leftovers is a great way to save time on cooking dinner!
Eat your veggies:
Though it can easily fit into a healthy and budget-friendly diet, adding meat, fish, and poultry to your shopping cart can be expensive! Opt for veggie-based meals a few times a week to save some extra money. Try out Meatless Mondays, or limiting your meat intake to one meal per day.
So, there you have it! Five easy steps that you can take today to save money all while eating a healthy diet. Do you use any of these budget-friendly tips already? How do you save money while eating healthy? Share your tips at firstname.lastname@example.org!