Following up on yesterday’s installment of Eating Healthy on a Budget, I bring you Part 2. Read on for more tips to make healthy eating affordable, simple and tasty!
Shop in Bulk
Buying large quantities of healthy foods makes them more affordable than buying just enough product for you to use today. Make sure to stick to products with a long shelf life or research the best way to store the things you buy to prevent wasted food. Some of my favorite things to buy in bulk are; oatmeal, rice, pasta, bread, canned tomatoes and beans, ground meat, and coffee.
Eat Out Less Often
It is pretty clear that eating at home is less expensive than eating out – especially when you are eating healthy. Employing the tips and tricks in this post and Part 1 will make cooking at home just as easy as going out. Planning ahead and having healthy options on hand makes staying in more appealing. For those busy nights where cooking is just too much trouble, have quick, healthy, ready made options on hand. Some of my favorites are all Amy’s brand products, Kashi frozen entrees or pizzas, or whole wheat ravioli or pasta with jarred or canned tomato sauce and a green salad. Be careful when buying store-bought pasta sauce – check the nutrition label and ingredient list and purchase the option with the most simple list with only ingredients you would put in homemade sauce.
Brown Bag It
Taking your lunch to work saves you money, and when you start with fresh ingredients and can control what goes into your meals, you’ll enjoy more healthful lunches as well. With a little organization and planning (which you are already doing) creating fun and interesting lunches can be fun.
Don’t have a lot of time in the morning? Make extra food the night before at dinner and bring it for lunch the next day. Soups can be made far in advance and make a hearty lunch served with a small salad and whole grain crackers. Sandwiches can be made the night before – just store tomatoes, lettuce, and other moisture-rich toppings separately and add at lunch time.
Save on Beverages
My first tip here is to reach for water as often as possible. It is staggering to think how quickly other beverages can add up. Whether it be coffee, tea, alcohol or soda, these drinks can quickly drain your bank account while expanding your waistline. Try to limit or avoid purchasing these items individually.
Buy coffee beans and tea bags in bulk, store them at home and brew your own for a fraction of the price. Tea is extremely portable and you can find a cup of hot water almost anywhere.
A glass of wine with a nice dinner is a nice treat, and also has healthy benefits. At home, make sure to limit it to one glass and invest in a vacuum wine saver kit to make your bottles last longer. When you are going out to dinner call ahead to see if the restaurant allows you to bring your own bottles for a small corkage fee. Most bottles on restaurant wine menus are marked up 2 to 3 times retail price. By bringing your own, you save money and know you will be drinking something you enjoy.
I recommend cutting soda out all together. Unlike coffee, tea and some alcohol, there are no benefits to drinking soda – only drawbacks. Try weening yourself off of them slowly and replacing your usual soda with sparkling water with citrus.
Avoid Packaged Foods
When I think of packaged foods, two words come to mind – processed and expensive. Product packaging is advertising, and when we buy those product we are not only paying for what is inside, we are paying for that advertising.
Packaged food is designed for a long shelf life. That means preservatives and other chemicals that turn what was once food into some foodlike substance. Many products make health claims, which is a red flag because we don’t really know how these products affect us in the long run. We do, however, know how whole foods like fruits and vegetables and whole grains affect us.
The best way to control what goes into your body is to eat food that are as close to their natural state as possible. In today’s world it is hard to avoid all packaged products, but when you do choose a box off the shelf, take the time to read the label and choose the option with the most natural (ad shortest) ingredient list.
What are your best tips for sticking to a healthy diet without breaking the bank?