Healthy Body on a Healthy Budget
Eating healthy doesn’t have to come at the cost of a healthy budget – though I’m sure many people think otherwise. It’s so easy to believe that when you are on a budget, you can’t afford all the good things in life. Today, our guest blogger and Registered Dietician, Lisa Rutledge, is telling us about how we can start making better choices on our frugal budgets (that don’t even have to be boring or hard to find!). Enjoy!
So many people want to eat well however there is a common myth that makes changing seem harder than it really is! When trying to make healthy changes to their eating habits, one of the most common difficulties I hear from people is how they struggle to eat healthy without breaking the bank.
Healthy eating is perceived as expensive (among other things such as time consuming and boring). I think this stems partly from the erroneous belief that certain specialty foods have to be eaten for health (I’m looking at you goji berries and protein powder!) as well as an overemphasis on fresh fruits and veggies.
The good news is that there are ways to eat well while cutting back on food spending and keeping your healthy budget. Before you give up on trying to eat healthy or worse, run into debt buying pomegranate juice and moon dust, hear me out.
Not surprisingly, there is middle ground between eating Kraft dinner and hot dogs every night and breaking the budget with boxed salad and wild, organic salmon. Sure, it may require a bit more planning and preparation than if you had an unlimited budget, but with time and practice any extra effort it takes now will soon be a thing of the past.
In fact, money aside, many of these tips can help you eat a wider variety of food on top of eating more antioxidants, fiber and other healthy nutrients.
1.) Buy seasonally and follow the sales.
Sales change from week to week so you can be guaranteed to eat a wide variety of foods if you buy what’s on sale. It is important to keep in mind that variety doesn’t have to be day to day or even meal to meal. One week of eating more broccoli and the next eating more carrots is a cheaper way to eat healthy.
This is a great way to save money on the more expensive foods such as yogurt, breakfast cereal and fresh fruit and vegetables. It may also open your eyes to new products or brands you hadn’t thought to eat before.
Buying produce that is in season means that it will likely be more flavorful and higher quality for a lower price. Check out this chart by SOS Cuisine for what is in season in your area.
2.) Stock up on canned and frozen vegetables and fruit.
Packaging and freezing techniques have improved dramatically in the last decade. This means that frozen produce is not only equally nutritious and sometimes riper when compared to their fresh counterparts- but the tastes have improved too. They are often more convenient to prepare since they are sold washed, peeled and cut up.
This time save with cooking can increase your chances of actually eating a vegetable at supper or fruit at breakfast. Of course, they spoil a heck of a lot slower than fresh fruits and veg so you can stock the pantry and freezer with all different kinds which allows for more variety. Forget eating broccoli all week to avoid it from spoiling! You could have a different vegetable every night if you’d like.
3.) Freeze individual sized leftovers to make your own microwave dinners.
Rather than buying TV dinners- that leave much to be desired in terms of flavor and satisfaction, make your own. Apart from the obvious save in the sodium and bad fat department, they’ll allow you to enjoy a decadent meal for way less.
Don’t like eating leftovers from last night or a cold sandwich? This is a perfect tip for you! Simply freeze the meal and save it for another week. Added benefits include helping you crawl out of a sandwich or salad rut and enjoy a homemade hot meal in the middle of the day.
4.) Try eating more plant based protein such as lentils, chickpeas and tofu.
Beans and pulses can be seasoned to match almost any flavour combination. When used as a substitute for meat in your favorite dishes, beans can save you up to 70% of the cost. For example, a serving of boneless chicken thigh costs ~$1.50. 3/4 cup of cooked lentils is a serving of meat and alternatives, and costs about $0.45. So, you could reduce your protein costs by about 70% by substituting beans for chicken.
If meat is a must in your house, try diluting the meat with beans (or tofu or edamame). This preserves the meaty flavor while cutting down on the cost of the meal. This idea works really well in dishes like Sheppard’s pie, Ratatouille and chili.
Of course there are other protein rich foods such as eggs (2 eggs = $0.60), cottage cheese (3/4cup = ~$1.30), canned tuna (1/2 a can = $0.80), and even peanut butter (2 tbsp = $0.17). Even better to keep your healthy budget!
Healthy Body on a Healthy Budget
Also, one last tip! Throwing out spoiled or uneaten food is a HUGE waste of money. Change your buying habits to better suit what you can actually eat or try using a basket labelled “eat soon” in your fridge to highlight foods to be eaten asap.
There is nothing more frustrating than setting a goal to eat better, buying a ton of fresh food, then having it spoil before all of it can be eaten. Plan out meals in which to use the fresh food then buy only what you need. Don’t forget that practice makes perfect when trying to throw meals together with what is in the fridge!
Looking for recipes that will help you have a healthy body on a healthy budget? Download my recipe e-book for delicious and balanced meals that are quick to make any weeknight.
Simply click here and follow the instructions.