One of the most common reasons I hear for not eating healthy is that it’s too expensive. It might seem that way at first glance — but after a bit of evaluating you soon realize that eating healthy is absolutely possible on a budget. In fact, once you get the hang of it, it can be quite easy.
I’m going to share some of my tried-and-true tips on how to eat healthy without breaking the bank.Take these tips and make them habits in your life, and you’ll soon find you can successfully have a healthier kitchen without sacrificing a large chunk of your bank account. Some of them may sound familiar, but ask yourself: “Am I actually doing this?”
Shop the perimeter. Most of us have heard this one. All the healthy items are on the outside perimeter of the store, but for some reason the cart wants to go up and down the aisles—just in case. This is a classic FOMO move. Fear of missing out.
When in fact, we’re not missing a thing. The inside aisles are mostly pre-packaged, boxed foods that typically aren’t ideal for a healthy lifestyle. And spoiler alert–they’re more expensive per serving! There are certainly some items you’ll need from the inside aisles, but the majority of your cart can be filled with items from the perimeter. So always start by shopping the perimeter of the store before you dive into the inside aisles.
By the way, salad dressing is one of THE most expensive items in the store!
Make you’re own using this simple 3:1 ratio: 1/4 balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro or rosemary), crushed garlic, or fresh squeezed lemon juice.
Don’t buy pre-cut items. Yes, it takes extra time, but buying pre-chopped onions or cut up fruit costs a significant amount more than buying a full cantaloupe and cutting it yourself. If you’re truly being budget conscious, grab a chef’s knife and cutting board and DIY. You’ll not only save money, the quality is better. Once a fruit or vegetable is cut, the nutrients start to degrade.
Shop at different places. Wholesale stores such as Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s Club may be most beneficial to shop at for some healthy items, but probably not your entire grocery list. Scope out where you can get your staple items weekly. Are your veggies most affordable at the Farmers Market or Trader Joe’s? Is it most economical to get your grains and beans in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods? Shop around and find the best deals for what you need on a weekly basis.
And here’s an inside scoop: Now that Whole Foods Market has been purchased by Amazon, the plan is to provide the same great quality at substantially reduced prices.
Grow it at home. Are there some items you frequently eat that you can grow in your backyard or on your balcony? There’s a ton of foods that you can easily grow at home, many of them you can even grow from scraps. Free is always great, right!? I recently took the bottom of a leek that still had its roots when I bought it, put it in water and guess what? In one day, shoots came up from the middle and it’s almost as big as when I bought it!
Not to mention that when you grow your own food, you know it isn’t laden with harmful chemicals. So, what can you grow yourself?
Food you grow yourself not only tastes better, you feel a
sense of accomplishment that’s well worth the effort.
Buy in season. In season vegetables and fruits are far less expensive, more nutritious and easier to find. I love green apples, but during the summer months, they cost twice as much. That’s why seasonal fruits are a much better option. Fruits are almost always on sale at the grocery store – so check circulars or online to see where you can get berries half off or where you can stock up on fruit for the week.
Some produce costs more than others. Making the bulk of your produce the least expensive ones can keep your grocery bill way down each week. Greens, carrots, apples (when in season), bananas and celery are among a few very inexpensive options. Balance those out with some more expensive broccoli, Brussels sprouts or berries, and you’re well on your way to eating healthy on a budget.
Be prepared. This isn’t just a credo of the boy scouts. I often hear that money gets wasted because sometimes we’re so busy we don’t actually use what we’ve bought and end up throwing out food that’s spoiled. If you’re spending your hard-earned money on food, be sure to build in the time you need to prepare it. Set aside some time on Sundays before the week starts or whatever day works for you. And if an item can be frozen, put it in a freezer container before it spoils so you can make use of it another time.