Here’s are five practical strategies that will help you eat healthy on a budget, while saving you both time and money.
One of the biggest myths when it comes to eating healthy is that it’s more expensive to focus on a healthy and balanced diet than to eat whatever you want. We all want to eat healthier but eating healthy requires consuming the correct daily balance of all the major food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. The USDA My Plate resource provides information about how to correctly balance these food groups.
Choosing less healthy food might be the solution for some cost-cutting people but fortunately, there are some things you can do to get healthy food and still stick to your budget (if you haven’t set up a food budget yet, check out our budgeting methods article first).
Limit Your Grocery Store Visits
Instead of running to the grocery store to buy a few items throughout the week, make a list and limit your grocery trips to once a week or once every other week. You can buy fresh produce that’ll last you an entire week or more. Limiting the amount of supermarket trips can curb the temptation to buy unhealthy foods and save you time.
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Change Your Meal Plan
One great way to eat healthy on a budget is to change your meal plan based on what items you currently have and what items are on sale in the grocery stores. By factoring these two things into your meal plan, you’ll be able to cut down on your weekly grocery costs. While the more expensive items tend to go on sale less often, it makes them more of a treat when you finally get to eat them. When it comes to fruits and vegetables I always limit my purchase on what is on sale each week. This may seem to limit your choices, but it will save you a lot of money. Eventually, all fruits and vegetables will go on sale too.
Visit a Farmer’s Market to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Don’t shop exclusively at the grocery store or supermarket. Farmer’s markets can also have great deals. If there is a regularly scheduled farmer’s market in your area, make the trip to find good deals on organic and locally grown produce. I’ve found that going to the farmer’s market towards the end of the day or weekend prices have decreased because vendors don’t want to haul products back home. Consider going later in the day to get the best prices and don’t be afraid to haggle on price. Lots of vendors are willing to barter and negotiate. Find a local Farmer’s Market in your area by visiting here.
Utilize Your Freezer
When my favorite fruits and vegetables go on sale, I buy more than what I can eat in a week. This may seem counter-intuitive, but by freezing some of my produce I am able to eat them later in the year when they may be more expensive.
Another great way to use your freezer to eat healthy on a budget is to participate in freezer cooking. Freezer cooking is an event in which you prepare lots of meals all at once and freeze them for consumption later. I usually reserve a half-day on Saturday or Sunday to put together extra casseroles and meals from my on-sale produce to save money and time. After a busy day or when I’m pressed for time, I can just take a pre-made, homemade meal out of my freezer and bake it in the oven.
Start a Garden to Eat Healthy on a Budget
If you have space and some time, starting a garden is a good way to have healthy and cheap produce from late spring through the fall. If you have a bountiful garden, you might even be able to freeze, can, or preserve some of your homegrown produce for later too. This is especially helpful during the winter to eat homegrown food instead of having to buy frozen or canned fruit and vegetables from the grocery store. If space is limited, you can set up a small herb garden right in your kitchen. Check out our recommended best 10 books to save money with a garden for more great resources.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost much given the right preparation and information. It’s important to consume the healthiest food to ensure wellbeing. By considering some of the options listed above you may discover some unique ways to eat healthy without breaking your budget that will also save you time.
So what other ideas do you have to eat healthy, save money and time, and stick to your budget?