Several months ago I took a look in my pantry and made myself a list of several items that I would no longer buy at the grocery store. Why am I feeding myself and my children this junk I thought? No matter how cheap it is, do I really want to put that into my body? The answer is no. My list includes things like Pop tarts, sugary cereals, fruit snacks, granola bars, and cheese puffs. Is it really more expensive to eat healthy? Well, I think the answer is yes and no. In terms of the cost of healthy food I think the answer is yes, but when we consider the value of our health, I think the answer is definitely no. So, how can I eat healthy on a budget? Here are 12 ways that I think can help:
1. Eat less meat- Eating meat for every meal can create quite a dent in out monthly food budget. Try substituting less expensive and more healthy options for proteins into your diet. When you do purchase meat buy discounted meat or buy in bulk and then break it up into usable portions to be frozen. When you do serve meat cut down on the portion sizes and serve more grains and veggies to go along with it.
2. Use more Grains and Legumes - They are inexpensive and packed with nutrition. Try mixing it up a bit by using grains like quinoa and barley.Experiment with new legumes; try something you never have before. You can also make some meat dishes stretch and become more nutritionally dense by incorporating beans.
3. Shop sales and clip coupons- Skip coupons for processed foods and focus on finding those for fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy; they do exist.
4. Buy in Bulk.
5. Grow your own Food - No matter how much space you have, you can plant something, even if you only have a window box herb garden.
6. Preserve foods when they are cheap or you have excess. Try various methods of preservation, canning, freezing, and drying.
7. Prepare a weekly or monthly menu - Make a shopping list from your menu and shop only from your list. This works! This is also a great way to figure out how much food your family uses on a monthly basis so you can more accurately figure out what you need for a 3-month supply.
8. Prepare your own food - Eat out less and buy less prepackaged food. By preparing your own food you have more control over what goes into your body and it saves you money!
9. Buy fruits and veggies that are in season. Everything is cheaper and tastes much better when it is in season.
10. Buy generic - For the majority of products there is no difference between brand and generic except the price.
11. Don't buy pre-cut veggies and fruits and skip "Organic" - Instead clean conventional fruits well and peel and cut your own veggies.
12. Make your own snacks and snack packs - Steer clear of 100 calorie packs and snack sized item. You are only paying extra for the packaging. Instead buy zipper bags and make your own snack bags filled with pretzels, raisins, nuts, etc. You can also make your own granola bars or cereal bars for more nutritionally dense snack options. For a really healthy crunchy snack check out our recipe for Chick a Dee's.