How to Eat Better without Hurting Your Wallet
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are ways to meal plan and stock your pantry without sacrificing your bottom line.
While ordering avocado toast at your local brunch hangout may not fit your budget, there are plenty of other ways to eat healthy on a small budget. Here’s what you need to know:
Read the right inspiration
Wendy and Jess, two registered dietitians who run a healthy eating website, Food Heaven Made Easy, wrote about how to eat healthy meals for $50 a week. Read it if you need inspiration/convincing that this is possible. It’s a complete breakdown of what they ate for every meal.
Second, plan your meals
The average American throws away $40 of food every month. That’s about 33 pounds of wasted food. Meal planning is your key to eliminate that waste (and get some great savings). Meal planning prevents buying unnecessary foods, helps you utilize leftover ingredients, and prevents you from making last-minute food panic decisions, which are nearly always unhealthy. If you’re new to meal planning, check out this beginner’s guide.
Fight impulse buying
One of the advantages of meal prep is that it helps you go to the store fewer times. Even with the best of intentions, the expensive cookies you love so much can be too big of a temptation. The fewer times you go to the store, the less likely you’ll be to give in. When you are enticed, remember that buying your impulse items could limit you from being able to buy the food your body actually needs.
Stock your pantry with staples
Many health foods are perishable, but there are some that have a long shelf life. Watch for these to go on sale, and then stock up (many of these foods are under $2). Good options could include:
- Brown rice
- Old-fashioned oats
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Frozen veggies
- Low-sodium beans
- Canned tuna
Pick a few healthy meals you’ll make for the week, and then make extra. Leftovers will help you save time and make better eating decisions.
Related: 6 Ideas to Save Money Every Day
Avoid eating out
Everyone knows eating out is more expensive than cooking for yourself, but it’s also wildly less healthy. For example, you could order a pasta dish at an Italian restaurant with well over 1,400 calories and with more grams of fat than you should consume in one day—and we didn’t even count the breadsticks. Save your wallet and your heart by avoiding restaurant eating.
Learn what produce is in season and plan your meals around what you know you’ll get cheaper. Strawberries are delicious, but if you’re trying to eat them in December you’ll end up paying a lot.
Learn to substitute meat for cheaper proteins
Meat can be pricey, so try swapping out different proteins. These could include eggs, beans, lentils (which have more protein per pound than beef), nuts or seeds, cottage cheese, or quinoa. Eating healthy and inexpensive is possible. It might take a little more time and planning, but your body will thank you for it.
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