It’s no secret that the prices of many goods and services have risen and are still rising. Many people find less wiggle room in their budgets, causing them to cut expenses where they can and spend only on necessary items.
We all need to eat, so food is one expense we can’t eliminate. And, if you want to maintain healthy eating habits, it might appear costly and unrealistic, but being strapped for cash doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our health. There are plenty of ways to eat healthy on a budget. It just takes some intentionality.
Here are some ideas to help you budget for healthy eating without spending too much.
Stay away from processed/pre-packaged foods and meals.
These types of convenience foods are much more expensive than fresh produce, meat, beans, and grains. They are also often loaded with preservatives, chemicals, and other unhealthy additives that can wreak havoc on your body and lead to chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Buy foods whole, not prepped.
For example, a head of lettuce or cauliflower is generally cheaper than a bag of salad mix or cauliflower florets. You will generally get more volume for your money, but produce also tends to last longer before it goes bad if it isn’t cut or shredded.
Meal planning can help you stay on track.
When you plan your meals, you can create a grocery list specific to your needs. This will help you avoid buying items you don’t need and help you stick to your budget. Make a grocery list based on your meal plan before shopping, and stick to it.
If possible, try to do your grocery shopping when you aren’t hungry so that you’re less likely to make impulse purchases.
Buy pantry staples in bulk.
Beans, rice, oats, flour, spices, broths, boxed soups, and other dried goods are usually cheaper when bought in bulk. They will last a long time if stored properly, so you can save money in the long run by stocking up when you see a good sale. Be sure to read the labels of any canned foods you may stock up on to ensure there aren’t any unnecessary additives.
Eat less red meat.
Red meat is generally more expensive than other meats like chicken or turkey, so eating less of it can help save you money. And there are plenty of other healthy protein sources, like beans, eggs, and tofu that you can eat in substitution for meat.
Grow your herbs and lettuce greens.
Often, people focus on buying big-ticket items and overlook the small things that can add up, like herbs. Dried herbs can be expensive per ounce, but you don’t have to buy them dried—you can grow your own! Fresh herbs are easy to dry if you want to keep a stock of them, and growing fresh herbs indoors doesn’t require much space. Plus, this way you always have access to fresh herbs.
You can also grow lettuce greens, like kale, spinach, and butter crunch lettuce in a smaller space than you might think. With a bit of planning and effort upfront, you can access fresh herbs and greens whenever you want them without spending money each time at the grocery store.
Cook at home and cut down on eating out.
Home-cooked meals are almost always cheaper—and healthier—than restaurant meals. So cooking at home more often can help you save money and help you to eat better.