Eating healthy is a very important part of overall well being, and it’s something that most people in this day just don’t do. With fast food being quick, cheap, and convenient, it’s easy to fall into a trend of unhealthy eating (I admit to doing it more often than I’d like to).
Bottom line is: You are what you eat.
We need to take care of our bodies, and finding a way to that in an affordable way is getting more and more difficult.
Here are a few simple tips to keep yourself and your family eating healthy while maintaining a budget:
- Keep track of what you buy and what you throw away. The worst thing you can do for your wallet is buying groceries just to throw them away. Be honest with yourself, are you really going to eat that head of lettuce, or is it going to get thrown in the trash? Go through your receipts and write down anything you didn’t eat, threw away, or didn’t really care for. It should only take a few trips to cut out a few extra items.
- Try new products that are on sale. Don’t just buy a certain brand because that’s what you’ve always bought. Take advantage of sales, even if it’s not your normal brand. You could find something you really like, or worst case, you have to eat it and don’t buy it again.
- “Organic” or “All Natural” does not always equal healthy. Be careful not to buy things just because of branding or marketing. The term “natural” isn’t regulated and is a very loose term. Check labels.
- Eat simple, fresh foods. If you’re concerned about chemicals or preservatives, buy fresh produce. Bananas make a great mono meal for breakfast, and they’re pretty darn cheap. Lettuce, pasta, and rice are all simple CHEAP things that you can build around. Have a simple base, and then spice it up with a new sauce or dressing.
- Only go grocery shopping once a week. I’m terrible at this. I have a tendency to run out to the store every time I crave something specific, which could be 3-4 times a week. You don’t notice how much your spending, because it seems like only a couple dollars here or there, but it really adds up. Limiting yourself to once (maybe twice) a week will make budgeting easier.
- If you do choose to buy organic, know which products are important to get organic, and which are not. Fruits/vegetables with a thick skin or peel aren’t as important to get organic.
- Go through your regular purchases and figure out which things are cheaper to make or buy. I love fresh juice, and I think the health benefits far out way most store bought juice, but it’s not really economical to make fresh juice every day, especially taking the time to clean up.
- Plan meals out ahead of time (if it’s right for you). I hate planning my meals out. Most of the time I don’t feel like whatever I premade for lunch through out the week, but buying exactly what you will need for set meals will help cut out buying unnecessary items.
- Don’t be afraid of the freezer. Frozen veggies are perfectly acceptable (especially if the alternative is large french fries from McDonald’s). Freeze leftovers, or pre-made meals. Frozen meals are great for when you’re too tired to make something and need something quick. They’re even better when they’re healthy meals you made ahead of time. Freeze bread and other things that might otherwise go bad.
- Grow your own garden at home. A lot of veggies are pretty easy to grow, and even if you don’t have the space or a green thumb, simple herb plants can save you money and provide fresh spice to your meals.
Remember that while it’s extremely important to save money in times like these, be careful where you cut corners. Eating healthy is good preventative maintenance for staying clear of doctor’s visits and having long term health problems in the future.