Two cheeseburgers in McDonald’s cost $2. A pound of fresh kale costs about $3. Looking from a mathematical point of view, it pays off more to eat at a fast food restaurant. But from a health point of view, it is very questionable. Many people consider that eating healthy requires much more money than eating processed foods, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Sure, a healthy diet on a budget has its challenges, but it is not impossible. Because we know it can be tricky, we prepared some tips that will help you eat healthy on a shoestring tight budget.
Buy seasonal and freeze it
Off-season fruit and vegetables can cost a fortune, especially if you are buying large quantities. However, during the season, fresh food is quite affordable. This is the time when you need to stock up. Since you are not going to eat everything right away, you can cut it in pieces (depending on the fruit or veggie) and freeze it for later. This way you will have strawberries in the middle of winter within your reach.
Buy frozen vegetables and fruits
Sure, you can buy fresh fruits and veggies and then freeze them, but someone has already done that for of you. Frozen food is much more affordable than fresh produce, and it is often on sale.
Plan your meals according to sales
Do you get a bunch of supermarket catalogs delivered to your address? What do you do with them? Throw them away? Don’t do that, at least not until you look through them. Most of these catalogs have great discounts and sales that could be useful. See what they have to offer, and plan your meals accordingly.
Look for more affordable cuts of meat
Everyone loves chicken breast and beef tenderloin, and while it is important to get your healthy protein from meat, these cuts can be too expensive, especially if you have a large family to feed. Instead, try to shop for less expensive cuts, such as teres major (beef) or chicken thighs. The taste is close to the more expensive cuts, and it can be further enhanced with creative cooking methods.
Eat beans and whole grains
You probably heard the buzz about how healthy brown rice, quinoa, freekeh and other beans and grains are. What you might not know is that these foods are actually quite cheap, especially when you buy in bulk. You can serve them as side dishes with meat or prepare them as independent meals.
Invest in quality cookware
If you are smart, this is an investment you will make once or twice in your lifetime, so it is worth splurging on. Quality cookware, such as non-stick Scanpan cookware, is a healthier alternative to conventional non-stick dishes. These products require far less oil when cooking, which is an instant health-boost. Plus, these dishes don’t emit harmful chemicals.
Repurpose your leftovers
Cooking from scratch each day can be difficult, time-consuming and very expensive. If you often throw away leftovers that could feed an entire family, it is a complete waste too. You can try repurposing leftovers into delicious meals. Really, everything can be turned into a pizza, Mexican tortilla, pot pie or a risotto.
Shop at the farmers’ market at the end of the day
Who doesn’t like to shop at a farmers’ market, where the aromas of fresh fruits and vegetables spread through the air? Still, we must be fair to admit that fresh produce here is very pricey, especially if you shop during regular hours. If you visit the market at the end of the day, you are much more likely to score great deals because sellers don’t want to bring a lot of produce back to their homes.
Visit ethnic markets
Ethnic markets not only offer a lot of affordable products, they also have diverse and interesting ingredients you couldn’t find elsewhere. Asian, Lebanese, Greek markets are great places to stock up on noodles, seasonings, exotic fruits and vegetables.
Grow your own food
Even if you live in the urbanest part of the city, there are some ingredients you can grow all by yourself. If you don’t have a balcony or a garden, you can grow fresh herbs in pots. Onions, sprouts, and tomatoes are easy to grow and they don’t occupy too much space.
Finally, you can save a lot of money when buying online. And we are not just talking about discounts and coupons you can get if you are registered and a frequent buyer in some online stores. There are also indirect savings, such as fuel you would otherwise need to drive to the supermarket.
As you see, it is quite possible to eat healthy without breaking the bank. Sure, it does require effort and thinking things through, but, at the end of the day, isn’t your health worth it?