Healthy food can be pricey, and it can be challenging to eat a balanced diet that involves vegetables and fruit when on a tight budget. The good news is that there are various ways to eat whole foods and save money. Here are some tips on how to eat healthier when on a budget.
Plan out your meals.
Planning is essential when trying to save money at the grocery store. Choose one day every week and plan your meals for that week on that day. Then, create your grocery list of everything you need for those meals. Before heading to the store, check your cabinets and refrigerator to see if you already have any items on your list. You may have some foods hidden that you can use. You could also plan your meals around food you must use before expiration. It would help if you only intended to buy what you know you will use, so you won’t throw away what you buy and don’t use.
Only buy what’s on your grocery list.
Once you’ve made your grocery list and planned your meals, only buy what’s on that list. Getting sidetracked at the grocery store is very easy and leads to unintended expenses and purchases. When you’re in the store, try shopping the outer edges first because that’s typically where whole foods are placed, and you’re more likely to fill your cart with them first.
The middle of the store has the most processed foods, so if you find yourself there, search the bottom or top shelves instead of straight ahead. Stores usually place the most expensive items at eye level. It could also help to download a grocery list app to assist you with shopping. Some apps let you save favorite things or share lists between users. Using an app is another excellent way to ensure you don’t leave your grocery list at home.
Cook your meals at home.
Making your meals at home is a cheaper alternative to dining out. Generally, buying food for one or two people at a restaurant costs the same as feeding a family of four. So, make cooking at home a habit instead of choosing to eat out at the last minute. Some people cook for the whole week on the weekends, while others cook one meal daily. Cooking for yourself also allows you to know the exact ingredients of what’s in your meals.
Make large portions and eat leftovers.
Cooking big meals can save you both money and time. You can use leftovers in other recipes or for lunches. You can reuse leftovers in burritos, salads, stews and stir-fries. Leftovers are great when you’re on a budget because they can stop you from eating out when you don’t have time to make a meal from nothing. You can also freeze leftovers to enjoy later.
Don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry.
If you grocery shop while you’re hungry, you’re more likely to wander from your grocery list and start impulse buying. You might levitate toward processed food with less beneficial nutrients than whole foods when you’re hungry. Since these aren’t on your list, they’re probably not helpful for your budget either. Before you head to the grocery store, try eating some yogurt, a piece of fruit, or another nutritious snack so you won’t be hungry when you get to the store.
Purchase whole foods.
Most foods are more affordable in processed form. For example, block cheese is cheaper than shredded cheese, and canned beans are more frugal than refried beans. Whole grains like oats and brown rice are more affordable than most processed cereals per serving. Less processed foods are typically sold in larger quantities and give more servings per package, saving you money.
Buy store or generic brands.
Most stores offer generic brands for almost every product, and all food manufacturers must follow standards to provide safe food for consumers. Generic brands are usually the same quality as national brands but are less expensive. With that information, read the ingredients list to ensure you’re not getting a lower quality product than a national brand or one with unexpected allergens or added ingredients.
Don’t buy highly processed foods.
It may be a surprise to see what you’re paying for highly processed foods like crackers, cookies, prepackaged meals, and soda. Although they lack beneficial nutrients and might be high in added sugar or salt, they’re also pricey. By skipping out on processed foods, you can spend more money on higher quality, nutrient-rich foods.
Take advantage of sales.
If you have staples or favorite products you use, you should consider stocking up on them when they’re on sale. If you know this product is something you know you’ll use, it will make more sense to buy it now to save a little money in the long run. However, it’s essential to ensure that the product will last and not expire before you get to use it. You won’t save money if you buy something you’ll throw out.
Buy less expensive cuts of meat.
Fish and fresh meat can be pretty expensive. Still, you can get numerous cuts of meat that are less expensive. When you’re at the store, look for pork top sirloin steak, chuck steak, poultry, ground meat, or whole chicken. You can use these cuts of meat in stir-fries, soups, stews, burritos, and casseroles. It would also help to purchase inexpensive and significant cuts of meat for different meals throughout the week.
Buy items in bulk.
Purchasing some foods in bulk can save you tons of money. Grains like oats, millet, barley, and brown rice are available to buy in bulk. You can also purchase bulk lentils, nuts, dried fruit, and beans. All of these items are staple foods that are inexpensive and can be used in various nutritious meals.
The most important thing about buying food on a budget is to remain consistent. Sticking to your budget may be challenging, but you’ll be rewarded in the long run when you look at your finances.