Making healthy food choices doesn’t have to break the bank! Sometimes I find people worry that eating healthy means having to spend a lot more money however, there are many ways around this. My clients and I have found these tips useful to save money AND time, making the whole process of eating healthy easier and more affordable.
1. Use what you have.
Examine the foods that are already sitting in your fridge. If you see some items that will go bad in a few days, find a recipe that incorporates these foods and get cooking! This is a great way to save money on a meal and prevent wasting perfectly good food. Have leftover chicken? Try putting shredded chicken over greens with other ingredients in your pantry; you’d be surprised how mismatched ingredients can make a great salad.
2. Create a weekly meal plan.
Make a grocery list and stick to it! Meal planning is one of the best ways to save time and energy throughout your busy week. By mapping out a meal plan, it will help you fight the urge to buy that bag of chips at the grocery store, as well as prep for upcoming lunches and dinners.
3. Never shop on an empty stomach!
Seems like a simple concept, but such an important one. When we are hungry we are much more likely to make impulse purchases, as well as make food choices we may not usually make due to hunger and cravings.
4. Cut back on eating out.
Try looking at dining out as a treat instead of a part of your schedule. This will leave more room in your wallet to buy quality ingredients and have more control of what ingredients are in your meals. If you find yourself making a daily pit stop for lunch, consider prepping your lunches for a couple of meals per week instead. Leftovers are your best friend!
5. Buy in Bulk.
Things like nuts, dried fruit, grains, and beans are cheaper in bulk. Try buying grains from the bulk bins at your local health food store; they are only pennies per serving. If trying something new, you can buy only what you need for a recipe. You can also purchase non-perishable items such as olive oil, herbal tea or any products you know you’ll use a lot of!
6. Shop local and in season.
In-season produce is always less expensive than produce that has to be imported. Try visiting local farmer’s markets or work with the local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to eat with the seasons. If CSA costs more than you consume, you can always consider splitting it with a friend! Farm fresh produce tends to be taste bud worthy and the best deal financially.
7. Learn the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.
The dirty dozen are the top 12 fruits and vegetables that are recommended to be bought organic while the clean fifteen are fruits and vegetables that are not sprayed as heavily with pesticides. You can save money by following these lists and not going 100% organic. Have these lists on hand when you go to the grocery store.
8. Stock up on the essentials during sales.
If there’s a sale at the store on a product you use daily, then stock up and put it in your freezer! A great example would be buying a bunch of bananas on sale knowing you use them in your daily smoothie. So, buy extra, freeze and use as needed.
9. Grow your greens.
Even if you’re working with limited space, you can always find room to grow a leafy green or herb inside or outside your home. This is a small investment with a great return; you’ll be able to enjoy these greens for months to come. Try growing kale or rosemary, products that you use in everyday cooking. Basil is one of my favorite herbs to grow at home because of its versatility. Use it whole on a Caprese salad or blend it into pesto (Just think of how much money those little jars of pesto can cost)!
10. Make extra food and embrace leftovers.
Try doubling your dinner recipe and plan to freeze leftovers. Use these meals on especially busy weeks so you’re not swayed to grab a quick bite out because you don’t have time to prepare a full meal. Soups, stews, and stir-fries are especially great for this and make for a delicious yet inexpensive lunch or dinner.
Your body and your health are the most valuable things you have! I hope you can use these tips to help fuel yourself with the best quality nourishment available.