One of the most common rebuttals against eating healthy is the cost. It’s just too expensive. We’ve all seen that the price of soda costs less than a bottle of water. The relatively steady price of fast food compared to fresh fruits and vegetables. That a burger costs less than a head of broccoli and will keep you full longer.
Here are my 8 all time tips for eating healthy on a budget.
Healthy food is a non-negotiable for me. I will prioritize it over many other things. I’ve been known to walk an extra hour to save my bus fare for other things, remembering food prices and comparing stores is second nature.
Steer well clear of pre-cut fruit, pre-noodled zucchini, ribboned sweet potato, etc.
Who’s watched the Ali Wong stand up “Baby Cobra” on Netflix (I highly recommend it), she talks about knowing when she’s finally rich when she could buy the pre-cut mango at the store. Yes, because that stuff is seriously overpriced, anyone can compare what it costs to the normal whole fruit at the same store and know they are dropping mega bucks for convenience. I’m not against that stuff completely, it’s just not budget friendly in the slightest.
Buy conventional produce.
If you can’t afford organic produce there’s no point right? Wrong! Any fruit and vegetables are better than filling up on other junk foods. If you have any flexibility in your budget buy the “dirty dozen” organic but if you can’t, don’t stress. Stress is probably more harmful to your health than the pesticides. Make sure you thoroughly wash your fruit and vegetables including the organic kind, because they still have pesticides on them (the approved for organic kind).
Stick to simple basics.
Yes, we all want those paleo cheesy poofs, or the grain free tortilla chips or the super special $10 chocolate bar or that raw vegan paleo dessert. We all want them! They are delicious! These should still be considered “treat foods”. These products are what’s driving up your grocery bill and not helping your waistline in the process. Plan out your weekly meal plan and buy the things you need (plants, meat, fish, eggs, nuts), only if you have money left over consider what “treat foods” you want for the week.
Get better sleep.
Getting sleep is free! The health benefits of good sleep are limitless but it includes better blood sugar regulation, this controls your cravings. When you’re not under the control of your cravings and the blood sugar roller coaster you will be less likely to stray from your budget by grabbing something that isn't on your shopping list.
Make a shopping list.
Impulse purchases have a way of ruining a budget pretty fast. Stick to your shopping list of basics - plants, meat, fish, eggs, nuts. Also, consider what you already have at home, we all have a tendency of reaching for the fresh and new. But letting products go past their use by date is like throwing money away.
Look for specials, buy in bulk.
Even fancy stores like Whole Foods have great specials week to week. Lookout for great prices on meat and fish especially, these can be bought in bulk, portioned into the right size and frozen for later. If what you wanted to buy is suddenly much more expensive, adjust and buy a different fruit, vegetable or meat that’s at a better price. Buy the always much cheaper larger sizes and split with family and friends.
Skip foods that mess with your blood sugar.
When your blood sugar is a mess, your cravings are out of control. Those are the times you go into your favourite coffee shop to treat yourself to a coffee but lo and behold you can’t resist ordering the fancy pastry. Or you sneak of the office in the afternoon in search of that sugary drink or treat that will get you through the rest of the day. Like I said in the “Sleep” section, cravings have a way of eating up your budget.
Skip eating out
Eating out is more like entertainment these days and not just nourishing our bodies. It’s not even a contest to compare the cost of a salad out to cooking at home. You can buy more food and usually better quality for less money when you cook at home. Convenience costs! Yes, it’s less exciting than a nice meal out but if your budget is the priority then stick to it. Know that nothing is permanent, you can eat out once your situation changes.
Anything I missed?
Do you have any other tips to share for eating on a budget? Comment them below. I have one more about how to get free coffee that I learned from a guy living in his van. If you're that desperate and need this extra 9th tip make sure to contact me directly ;-)!