Eating Healthy on a Budget…
Let’s talk healthy eating. Many of us associate health eating with having to drop $100+ at the grocery store on ridiculously priced items that last us a week at best. Which is why 9 times out of 10 we opt to turn down the frozen food aisle and the aisles stocked with unhealthy foods rather than head for the fresh produce section. But truth is you can start eating healthy on a budget!
I used to be that girl. I’d be the one with the cart full of frozen dinners, frozen junk food, chips, cookies, sodas etc.. essentially anything in bulk for cheap. I’d walk out with enough food for 2+ weeks with spending under $100. Don’t get me wrong, I still throw the occasional frozen burritos and double stuffed Oreos in my cart, I’m okay with indulging in my guilty pleasure every once in a while. But lately, I’ve really started focusing on my health and what I put into my body. I’m coming up on 25 years old this year which means my metabolism along with my body is changing and I can no longer eat 20 chicken nuggets in one siting and not gain a pound.
Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve learned how to shop for health foods, meal prep mindful meals and make our groceries last for more than a week at a time. If you’re having a difficult time or just starting out, here’s some tips + tricks on how to start eating healthy on a budget!
- Plan Ahead – Decide on what meals you want for the week and make a list. The biggest mistake you can make is going into a grocery store without a game plan. You’ll wind up buying things you don’t need and spending more money than you probably should. My favorite thing to do is looking up healthy lunch and dinner ideas for the week on Pinterest and write down all the ingredients in my notes beforehand.
- Shop Frozen Fruits/Veggies – If you’re cooking for more than 1 person, opt for frozen fruits + veggies. The quantity is usually larger than what you get in fresh produce section and it reduces food waste. (side tip, I LOVE smoothies in the morning and using frozen mixed fruits instead of individually buying the fresh fruits last me longer and saves me over $15 ever grocery trip!)
- Protein is Key – Focus on incorporating foods that will keep you satisfied and full for longer periods of time. Starting off on my health journey, I also thought “ Oh I need salads”. In reality, my salad products would go bad before the end of the week and I’d be hungry within an hour after eating. An example, my go to meal for lunches through out the week is grilled chicken, broccoli + baked sweet potato. I can buy a large pack of chicken breast, a large bag of frozen veggies and 8-10 sweet potatoes and spend under $30 for the full week for both my partner + I!
- Bargain Hunt – Shop sales and check your local ads! This is one trick I learned from my mom. I love a good sale regardless of if its clothes, shoes or food. One thing that saves me money is buying meat and nonperishable items on sale! Buying 2-3 packs of meats a time will save you more money in the long run and you can store your meat for up to 3 months! When items like rice + beans on sale I’ll buy 2-3 at a time be set for a solid month!
- Shop Other Stores – Shop pantry staples at local discount stores. Items like olive oil, spices, vinegar, BCAA aminos, can get pretty pricey at your local grocery store and wind up tacking on an extra $10-15 on your grocery bill. One thing I’ve found really helpful is checking my local dollar or discount stores for these items! I always find them for a few dollars cheaper than I would in my regular HEB or Kroger grocery store!
Eating healthy on a budget can take time to master and finding a way that works for you may take some trial and error. So long as you keep at it, you’ll find what works for you and you’ll be so happy you didn’t take the easy junk food route!