Healthy eating on a shoestring budget
Being on a tight budget can make healthy eating a real challenge. As one year closes and another begins people start to wondered eating healthy. However a trip to the local market shows that the price of healthy items versus unhealthy items. We shouldn’t have to pay more for a salad than we do for a fast food option. Unfortunately, that is the reality we live in. With that being said, there are ways to beat the system. It will require a bit of planning, but not exhaustingly so.
There is a link between income and quality food choices. Although healthy food is available to everyone, when you are on a budget, you often face a few extra challenges. You can read the evidence here. I have so much more energy when I eat healthier. When it comes to spending money on food, I definitely do not splurge often. I realized that I can eat just as good without breaking the bank. There might be some organic options that are just not in the budget, but I don’t have to purchase it from a fancy grocery store. I can get a better deal by going to the farmer’s market or growing some produce myself. There are so many ways I have managed to eat healthily and stay within my budget.
There are various ways to preserve food, but canning is one of my favorites. You can save a lot of money and reduce wastage by properly canning fruits and vegetables. There is one method where you use boiled water. This works well when making jams and pickles. For other types of canning, you can use the pressure method. You can even use this method for canning meat.
This is where the hard work starts. Going to the grocery store without a plan can cost you more. Take a few hours out of your day and plan the meals for the week. Go through your pantry and plan with the items already on hand. Write out breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then start listing the ingredients you would need. Tick off the items already in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Now you have a list of items you need to shop for. When you go to the grocery store with a plan, you are more likely to stick with it.
Be creative with leftovers
I wrote a post recently about how to use your leftovers and turn it into delicious meals. The article contains a lot of great ideas you can incorporate into your reuse of leftovers. You will not only be saving money, but you are helping a global problem. It does not have to be a repeat of the same meal you had the day before. Get your creative hat out and start creating new dishes with your leftovers. When you are on a shoestring budget, you really don’t want to be throwing food in the bin. You can also opt to freeze some of your leftovers and eat it a week later. By this time, you are probably craving the same meal again.
When you go to the grocery store, look for options you can stretch over a few meals. A rotisserie chicken is one of the best options. You can start by having roast chicken and vegetables for dinner. Then use it in a chicken sandwich. The carcass can make a great stock. One purchase used in more ways than one. You can also buy a bag of brown rice and use it in multiple ways. Rice makes a great base for many recipes. You do not have to stick with the chicken, broccoli and brown rice dishes. There are so many great alternatives.
Go for the generic option
We spend way too much money on branded items. The store usually has a generic option that tastes just as good. Do not fall for the label when it comes to food. I have found some store brand options that delivers more on taste. You do not want to compromise on flavor and quality. Read the labels and often times you’ll see that it contains the same ingredients.
Use beans as protein
There seems to be some stigma attached to beans. The struggling artist who survives on rice and beans is a far-fetched idea. It actually is a great source of protein and healthier than having a steak on your plate. You can get up to 15g of protein in one can of beans. That’s pretty remarkable. It’s affordable and you can find so many great recipes to try out. Besides protein, beans contain a lot of nutrients and minerals we need for a healthy diet.
Don’t follow trends
Every few years we learn about a new “superfood”. Although it would be great to pump our bodies full of these nutrients, you can achieve the same without going extreme. If you cannot afford quinoa right now, stick to brown rice. Kale is delicious, but if it is expensive, spinach will do the same. I was never into smoothies. I would much rather eat my food than drink it, but that’s just me. You can easily overspend when you try to follow every trend that pops up and then disappears as quickly as it came. Stick to the basics of healthy eating and you should be just fine.
Eating healthy on a shoestring budget is possible for anyone. Even if you have some money to spend on groceries, you can still save with these tips. On your grocery trips, make sure you eat before heading out. We are often tempted by foods when we are hungry. Stick to your meal plan and don’t be afraid of generic brands. Food is there to sustain us, not entertain us. Here’s to a happier and healthier you with more change to spare.