Put simply, eating healthy doesn’t break the bank. I know there are some people that will immediately disagree with me, but hear me out. If you want to eat healthy, on a budget, there are ways to do it without existing on rice and beans – you just have to be creative, committed and cognizant (we’ll go with those 3 “c” words for now) and it’s definitely possible.
When you think about “healthy” foods – what comes to mind? Fruits, veggies, beans, eggs, grains – NONE of those cost very much. The things that move the needle are things like prepared food and meat – not the staples of a healthy diet. To be fair, you may have to make compromises here and there and be flexible with what you make and when – but if that extra money means I can go on one additional trip around Europe while based in London, it’s worth every penny!
Here are my top tips – starting with the ones you’ve probably heard before and leading up to the ones that may be new to you:
- Shop the perimeter (or your local farmers’ market)
- Buy what’s in season
- Buy frozen fruits/veggies – they are perfect for things like smoothies
- Learn to incorporate canned seafood into your weekly meal plan – sardines, anchovies, clams, tuna & salmon
- Make your own condiments/sauces/dressings
- Use up produce that’s overripe in your smoothies
- Use your slow cooker for inexpensive cuts of meat – pork shoulder makes amazing pulled pork!
- Make casseroles, stews, grain salads – they are such easy ways to stretch ingredients without noticing it
- Only buy pre-cut veggies that are truly a pain in the neck to work with – I buy pre-chopped onions because I sob when chopping them, that’s worth it to me!
- Make a meal plan before you shop
- Only grocery shop once a week
- Use websites to find ways to use up random leftover ingredients – if you have extra ingredients around the kitchen, look at websites like bigoven.com for ideas on what you could make
- Buy good storage containers – you end up saving so much money by storing things properly (brown rice, chia seeds) vs. letting them get stale after one use
- Buy your groceries online – I find that I spend much less money this way, I see the total added up as I shop and realize what are wants vs. needs
- If you buy groceries in person, chat with your butcher/fishmonger – they can recommend the best selection they have at the price point you are trying to stay at
- Buy whatever meat/fish is on sale and base your meal around that
- Make eating out a treat – this was a huge adjustment for me but now I wouldn’t change it!
- When you do eat out, buy things that are difficult to make at home (not oatmeal, eggs)
- Instead of going out to eat, take a cooking class – you’ll pay the same price but walk away with new skills/techniques and recipe ideas
- Buy in bulk – but ONLY what you’ll actually use
- Learn how to roast a chicken
- Start drinking less bottled beverages and more water – invest in a purifier
- Be OK with substitutions – anything (aside from avocados) can be subbed
- Think about the prepared foods you most frequently buy (Chipotle, Subway) and challenge yourself to recreate BETTER versions at home
AND…the final tip…
25. Talk to your local pizzeria and see if they’ll sell you fresh dough – you’ll then get to have the fun of making pizzas at home, but will only be spending money on the one “special” ingredient (and then you can pile the pizzas with veggies at home!!)
What are some of YOUR favorite tricks?? If anyone’s ever interested I can post my weekly grocery orders so you can see mine and how I make it work even in an extremely expensive city like London!