Fad diets are out, health and wellness are in. Nowadays, people are losing interest in quick-fix solutions to living a healthier life. An increasing number of people are investing in a complete lifestyle change. A change that promises longevity, all while feeling great. However, a big part of a lifestyle switch up is changing your relationship with food and for many, nutritious food can be expensive.
It can get overwhelming and difficult to eat a balanced diet that includes the correct servings of fruits and vegetables when you’re on a tight budget. But the good news is, there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to enjoy organic, nutrition-packed whole foods. These tips will help you ease into healthy shopping without having to consult your financial advisor first.
Strategies for Eating Well on a Budget
Before you head off to the grocery store, it’s important to remember that it’s a game of chess and not checkers. Meaning, always have a strategy to eat well on a budget. Do your research, and make sure to do what works for you and your family first.
Another important factor to note is that when food spoils before it is prepared or eaten, that’s a money drain. Preventing food waste is a smart way to support your budget goals. Consider the following tips before heading to the market:
1. Plan Your Meals
Yes. We cannot stress this enough. Planning is essential for success in most aspects of your life – not just meal prep. Sitting down to make a list of all the foods you need to buy may take a bit of effort, but it will cut down shopping time. It allows you to budget accordingly and ensures less food wastage. Planning your meals will also help you fight the urge to impulse buy.
It’s advised by nutrition experts to pick a day each week to plan your meals for the following week. Make sure to scan the fridge, the pantry and all nooks and crannies for food items that you may already have. Once those meals are planned out, make a grocery list and head out to the store to get those items.
Remember to resist temptation and to only commit to buying what is on the list. There are several benefits to following this rule. Mainly, you won’t end up with a lot of food waste and you’ll be sticking to a budget. An alternative to beating the impulse buy is opting to do online grocery shopping. But consider additional fees into the budget, such as delivery fees and shopper fees.
2. Buy In Bulk
Buying in bulk is a definite money saver. This method of buying decreases grocery bills and makes meal prep easier with more quantity. But not all foods are made for bulk purchasing. The best kinds of foods to buy in bulk are products such as grains (brown rice and oats), and foods that can be stored in airtight containers like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and dried fruits.
Many of these products are considered staple foods and can be found at a lower price at some grocery stores.
3. Buy In Season
The secret to healthy eating is consuming fresh produce. But the cost of fresh produce can add up quickly. However, all is not lost. There are a few tricks that you can apply to get bang for your buck when it comes to purchasing fresh produce.
Local produce that is in season is generally cheaper than out of season foods. You are also guaranteed that the foods produced locally didn’t travel from far destinations to get to the store. And you can count on fewer preservation methods being used to retain the product colour and flavour.
Also, look into seeing what is in season at both your grocery store and the local farmer’s market. Sometimes, grocery stores and farmers markets will have discounted fresh produce at the end of the day because they do not want to haul or keep perishable items.
Try to buy produce by the bag if you can. This is usually a lot cheaper than buying fresh produce piece by piece. And if you’ve got bags of fresh produce but are afraid you won’t get to savour them before they expire, you can easily freeze them for up to 6 months.
4. Grow Your Produce
We may not all be gifted with green thumbs but it’s always encouraged to grow your produce. Not only is it fun, inexpensive and the healthiest option, but you’ll also always have a continuous supply of fresh produce at home.
Seeds are very cheap to buy and you can grow anything from fresh herbs and sprouts to tomatoes, carrots, spinach and onions. Although time and effort are needed in growing a successful garden, the taste of home-grown produce is a lot better than the store-bought variety. And you’re always guaranteed that it’s fresh!
With some time and effort, it’s easy to grow your produce, such as herbs, sprouts, tomatoes, and onions. However, if you don’t have the time (or much-needed patience) to grow your produce, there is the option of joining a community garden.
5. Buy Frozen Foods and Vegetables
Despite what the rumour mill is spinning, buying frozen foods is not a sin. Frozen and canned items can be just as nutritional as fresh produce. Frozen and canned food also save you time and money as well as help you to avoid less-than-healthy impulse buys.
Quick-frozen produce is available all year and is usually sold in large bags. With canned items, they are picked at their peak and frozen within 24 hours, making them both tasty and nutritious. However, it is important to read the labels on canned foods. Some canned options are high in sodium and may contain added sugar.
The bonus is, you use what you need. The rest can be kept safe from spoiling in the freezer. Helping you to reduce waste and save money.
So you see, you don’t have to break the bank to eat well. Eating whole foods and nutrient-rich foods just takes a bit of meal planning and making smart choices where you can. The more you stick to the plan the more benefits you’ll reap. Besides, no matter how tight the purse strings are, you can’t put a price on your health.
Want more information about how good nutrition can help you take care of your heart and improve your health? Sign up for our free health webinars, running every Saturday from February 26th to April 2nd, 2022.