It is a challenge when buying food and planning meals when you are on a tight budget. And if you want to eat healthily, that is the worst challenge. A healthy life, like building muscle and reducing fat, requires a healthy diet. What do we need to maintain or build muscle? We need proteins. What do we need to have energy? We need carbohydrates. If we want fiber, minerals, and vitamins in our bodies, what should we eat? We should eat fruits and vegetables. You can find all this in the healthy food section of your local grocery store, but I’ll be lying if I say it’s very affordable. In fact, the price of this type of food is rising rapidly. You may not notice it now, but you will soon. Don’t worry, because you are lucky enough to be reading this article. I will give you some tips: How can you eat healthy if you are on a tight budget?
How To Eat Healthy On A Budget?
1. Mark Your Calendars
It costs you less if you buy fresh products during their season. There will be a large supply of that particular product at that time, which will cause sellers to lower their prices in order to adjust it to the demand. So take advantage of this opportunity, because even if you don’t consume it immediately, you still have your freezer. Just freeze it. I know that fresh products are always the best, but if you are on a tight budget, freezing your products is not so bad. Another good thing about marking your calendar is that you won’t forget all the sales in your local stores. Usually, we buy the foods that are listed in our weekly or monthly menu. I suggest that instead, you base your meal plans on what is on offer. Don’t forget to check the sale of frozen vegetables. If you shop in the same stores every week, it’s a good idea to sign up for a savings card that they offer.
2. Be Wise In Choosing Meat
If you are a meat lover, you can still enjoy being one on a budget. If you have a tight budget, you should choose the cheapest piece of meat. For example, instead of chicken breast, look for a cheaper piece of chicken like chicken thighs. This is also the best way to try different cooking methods. I suggest that you use a cooking pot because it turns cheap pieces of meat like chicken breast and pork shoulders into a tender and juicy meal. Here are some examples of cheaper pieces of meat for you: meat with skin, with bones, organ meat (more nutritious), tougher parts of red meat, lamb throat fillets, beef knuckles, whole chickens, pork belly and cheeks.
3. Embrace Beans And Whole Grains
There are many beans and whole grains that are very inexpensive, that can bulk up your meals, and that can even be a meal in themselves. A few examples are brown rice, black beans, whole wheat couscous, wheat berries, freekeh, and quinoa. Best of all, these can also help you lose weight because they keep you full longer than other foods.
4. Plan And Prepare Meals Ahead
In our house we cook many dishes on Sundays. This is a good way to build family ties, and we can also save time and money. We cook food that lasts a whole week. I suggest you do the same. All you have to do is plan your meals and prepare them well in advance. Then, just put them in your refrigerator so that you can easily heat them up when you need them.
5. Learn The Mexican And Indian Cuisines
These cuisines usually consist of beans and rice, which are cheap. They also use less meat and use interchangeable ingredients. This way you have fewer ingredients that go to waste. Some examples of Mexican food rich in protein and fiber are burritos and tortillas.
6. Keep Your Fridge And Pantry Organized
It’s always great to keep leftovers in the fridge, but there’s no point if you forget about them. I suggest that you label all leftovers; you can use tape and a magic marker for that. It’s best to write down what’s inside and also the date you put it in the fridge. This way you can minimize food waste and spend less money on buying more food.
7. Try Supplements
Supplements make your life easier and are also very cheap. Even if whole foods are better, you can still use supplements, but make sure that your diet does not consist of unprocessed foods. The cheapest protein you can buy is whey; 24 grams of protein per 30-gram serving. Fish oil is cheaper than fish, but a teaspoonful of it contains 1600 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. If you buy supplements, one sachet or bottle will last for weeks.
8. Repurpose Leftovers
We cannot hide the fact that sometimes eating the same food over and over again leads to loss of appetite. This is because you are used to eating the same meal all the time and you long for new and delicious meals. This does not prevent you from saving, because you can always reuse these leftovers. Most of your leftovers can be made into a delicious soup and will go well with bread. If you have meatloaf, meatballs or fried meat, you can also simply use them to make a sandwich, pot pie or fried rice.
9. Visit The Farmers’ Market Late
Consider visiting the nearest farmers’ market at the end of the day, as you can usually find great deals there. I suggest that you go there an hour before the market closes, as they sell it at a lower price.
10. Shop At Ethnic Markets
Greek, Lebanese and Chinese markets are just a few examples of ethnic supermarkets that are a good source of interesting ingredients. And not only that, in ethnic supermarkets you will probably find a bargain on their products. An Asian market is a good place to buy cheap noodles. Other supermarkets sell them at a very expensive price. You will be surprised by what you will see: cheap spices, sauces, and products.
11. Buy Whole Foods
It is cheaper and more nutritious if you buy unprocessed rather than processed food. You also have control over the ingredients you use when cooking unprocessed food. Always avoid buying meals in a box. Here are some examples of healthy unprocessed food:
- Protein: veal liver, ground beef, cottage cheese, canned tuna, eggs, milk, frozen chicken breast
- Carbohydrates: raisins, rice, bananas, cabbage, pasta, potatoes, oats, apples, broccoli, beans, spinach
- Fats: fish oil, olive oil, mixed nuts, butter, linseed
12. Choose Cheap Proteins
To build and maintain your muscles, you need one gram of protein per pound of your body weight every day. Protein also has a higher thermal effect compared to other foods, so eating protein can help you lose fat. So instead of salmon and steaks, eat foods high in protein such as milk, eggs, whey, tuna, calf’s liver, mackerel, cottage cheese, and frozen chicken breast.
13. Buy Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
In fact, frozen fruit and vegetables may contain more nutrients than fresh ones if they are frozen directly at harvest. You can also save time by pre-cutting and pre-washing frozen food. You can buy it in bulk without worrying about its shelf life, because frozen food has an almost unlimited shelf life, especially when stored in the freezer. Fresh fruit and vegetables usually cost twice as much as frozen ones. I suggest you buy frozen berries so that when you are hungry you can simply defrost them in the microwave and serve them with cottage cheese. There are also many recipes that you can try out. Just put your frozen vegetables in a sieve the night before you start cooking.
14. Clip Coupons
If you see coupons from Grocery Coupon Guides, print them out. Also, you can cut out coupons from newspapers. This will only take a little effort, but it will really save you money.
15. Buy Generic Food
Most foods are expensive because of the advertising and packaging of the product. If you get used to buying raw foods such as pasta, eggs, rice, cottage cheese, milk, and frozen fruit and vegetables, you will find that it is not bad at all.
16. Purchase In Bulk
You should always remember to buy in bulk, especially if you have promotions going on. Buy as much as you can (as long as you can afford it) and store it in your home. There are many foods that are easy to keep in stock, such as rice, pasta, and oats. If you can’t consume everything, share the cost with your friends and family. Mixed spinach, beans, broccoli, and berries are also available in stores at a lower price. You can save time, money, and effort if you buy in bulk.
17. Choose Calorie-Dense Foods
This is very effective if you want to get bigger. There are many high-calorie foods that are easy to store, such as potatoes, rice, whole milk, pasta, and oats, and they are all filling and healthy.
18. Buy Discounted Meat
Always check the meat section of your local grocery store, because when meat is close to its sell-by date, they sell it at a discount of up to 70%. You can buy a lot of meat during this time and simply keep it frozen.
19. Buy Everything From One Place
If you have a tight budget, you shouldn’t just spend less on food, but also on other expenses, such as your fuel. Just look for one or two shops where you can buy inexpensive food. If you spend most of your time searching for sales in all the shops, you might end up going back to the first shop you visited. Just shop in one or two shops, and make a note in your calendar as to when a sale will take place in those stores.
20. Eat Fewer Calories
This is effective for fat people. While you are losing your fat, you are also saving your money. Think about it: you will save money and make yourself healthy.
21. Drink Tap Water
Filtering forty gallons of tap water costs you only $8. Stop buying bottled water, fruit juice, or soda.
22. Choose Wisely, Live Well
You should always remember to be wise in your choices. It is known that larger packages are cheaper than buying many small packages. But it wouldn’t hurt if you took the time to read the portions and the price of the different packages, sometimes two smaller boxes are cheaper than a big one.
23. Prepare Your Own Food
Control everything in your meal. You can cook in the morning or before going to bed, it only takes up to an hour. The good thing is that you know you are eating a healthy meal. If possible, make everything homemade, like protein bars, pizza and tomato sauce. Always learn to cook from scratch; this is the best way to get the cheapest meal.
24. Avoid Impulse Buying
This is one of the problems we have when we go shopping. The best way to avoid this is planning. Do not go shopping when you are undecided. Make a list of everything you need, not everything you want. What should be on your list are the ingredients of the food you will be cooking for next week or month. Before you go to the grocery store, eat a solid meal to prevent you from buying what you want to eat. If possible, do not bring your husband or children with you; they will usually add more items to your list.
25. Stop Eating Out
If you prepare your own food, then you will avoid eating less healthy and more expensive food in restaurants. You have control over the ingredients, so you always have the choice of using healthy and cheap ingredients. When you work, take food with you to your office. Always remember to eat before you leave home.
26. Grow Your Own Food
This is the best thing you can do if you want to save your money. It’s cheaper than frozen fruit and vegetables, and at the same time, you know that your food is picked fresh from the garden. You can plant whatever you want and buy chickens so you can have free eggs.
Who says that healthy eating is impossible on a budget? Now you have a lot of ideas on how to keep yourself healthy and keep your money inside your wallet.