Being on a tight budget can be frustrating, but even more so if you are also trying to improve the nutrition of your food and stick to a healthy diet. It can be done, but it does take a bit more strategy and planning. Here are some tips for eating healthy no matter what your food budget is.
Shop your kitchen first
always start by building meals with ingredients you already have. Check your
canned food and determine if it goes with any healthy meals you can make, check
your seasonings cabinet, look for what is in your freezer that is still good.
Always start with your own kitchen first when you are
looking to stick to a tight food budget, but still want to eat a healthier
diet. You probably have some ingredients you can use up in your refrigerator,
freezer, or pantry. Start with ingredients that are going to expire soon so
that they don’t go to waste. You can then consider any pantry staples that
would work for healthy meals, like beans or rice, canned vegetables, or meat in
Track your food expenses
Have a plan for everything you buy
ingredients you think you might use but don’t have an actual plan for. This
tends to happen when you are in the grocery store or market and see something that sounds
good or that is new, and you want to try it. The problem is that if you don’t
have a very specific plan for what meal to use it for, it is often unnecessary
and might not even be used up before it expires.
Always have a meal plan and a list
for what you buy, you should have a detailed meal plan and grocery list before
you step foot in the store. As always, start with food you already have, then
create meals based on that. Make a list of ingredients you need for all the
meals and snacks for the week or however long your food budget is for.
Know how to store your food
and end up being thrown away. There are a few things you can do to prevent
this, beginning with understanding how and where to store your produce.
Did you know that some produce releases ethylene and others
are sensitive to it? If you store ethylene-producing food with ethylene-sensitive
food, it’s going to go bad faster.
For example, don’t store your potatoes with your avocados.
Potatoes are sensitive to as, and avocados release a lot of ethylene gas.
Buy produce in season
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy,
balanced diet, but it is easy to spend more than necessary. To avoid this,
start by buying produce that is currently in season. This might vary based on
where you live, but for example, summer produce often includes watermelon, carrots, and tomatoes. You can also buy produce in season and preserve it to use all year round.
You can look for year-round produce that tends to be
cheaper for most of the year than other produce. This includes lemons and limes,
apples, oranges, potatoes, and lettuce.
Buy and cook in bulk
A great option for saving money on food while also eating a
healthy diet is to buy in bulk. This does take a little more planning, but can
ultimately help you afford more nutritious foods and not stray from your food
People often think this is only a good option when you have
a big family, but that isn’t true at all. Everyone can benefit from buying and
cooking in bulk. An obvious benefit of cooking this way is by saving on the
individual ingredients you buy. You tend to get the best deals when buying
something in bulk.
Another great benefit is that you can cook more of whatever
meal you are cooking, saving you more time later. The same amount of preparing
goes into it to make for example two casseroles instead of one, then you have
an entire casserole to put in the freezer and have it ready for a night when
you don’t have as much time for cooking.
Track how much you spend on food
All money you spend on food should be tracked. In
fact, if you haven’t created your food budget yet, this is a good place to
start. It is really easy to spend more than you intended to on food, especially
with impulse purchases while shopping for other things. It is important to keep
track of everything you buy as far as food and groceries go, and tweak your
budget if you need to based on this information.
Consider food that stretches farther
Some foods tend to stretch a little farther than others,
being used for multiple meals. These are the foods to consider adding to the
rotation. For example, a bag of potatoes, rice, or beans goes a long way.
Potatoes can be cooked dozens of different ways and used for so many meals.
Plus, they last a few weeks before going bad, so it is a great ingredient to
purchase for healthy, inexpensive meals.
Shop around for the best prices
It might seem tedious, but it helps a lot to compare prices
at different stores in order to get the best deal. This doesn’t mean you go to
5 different grocery stores every week, but you decide which stores have more of
what you need with the best deal.
You will probably figure out which stores have the best
deals on foods you buy the most often, so that makes it much easier down the
Build up food inventory slowly
Since you still need to stick to your current food budget,
it does take a little more planning ahead for buying in bulk. For this reason,
you want to build up your inventory slowly, instead of getting everything at
once. Maybe the next time you are at the store, there is a good sale on chicken
breasts, so you purchase two or three packs instead of one. Do this slowly and
only within your regular food budget.
Keep it simple
You don’t need to use fancy ingredients or expensive
organic foods for a healthy diet. Keep your meals and snacks simple and
well-balanced, going for affordable ingredients to put together nutritious
Find creative ways to use leftovers
When it comes to leftovers, people often make the mistake
of leaving the meal as it was originally served. While this does help
sometimes, it can quickly become unexciting, which increases the chances of it
just sitting in the fridge until it goes bad.
Instead, think about other ways you can use those meals or
side dishes in other meals. For example, leftover roasted chicken can be used
for so many different meals. Put it in a casserole, make chicken wraps, or shred it up for chicken salad.
Keep everything organized
To prevent food from going bad before you get the chance to use it, make
sure your refrigerator, freezer, and food pantries are all well organized. Always
keep the older food items upfront and the newer items in the back. That way,
nothing expires before it gets used. Keep as many food items in your vision as
you can so you remember they are there and will use them for your meals.
Don’t Worry About Food That is Trendy
When it comes to
clean eating or diets in general, companies come out with a lot of trendy
products and claim they are the next best thing with a healthy diet. But most
of the time, they are completely unnecessary. While nice to have occasionally
as a treat, they aren’t required for a healthy diet. You don’t need to add
turmeric to your smoothies or get truffles for your meals. You can have clean,
healthy meals without these types of food.