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How to eat healthy on a budget?

Slow Market La Capra Rampante

Many people think that eating healthy is more expensive. It is possible to eat healthily on a budget though. The other day I compared what I’m spending on groceries with what I used to spent on food with my old unhealthy eating habits years ago. On average (with a few exceptions) I’m now actually spending less money on food. Healthy eating all has to do with what you buy and where. I’m going to help you out, and will share my top tips with you on how to eat healthy on a budget.

Plan your groceries

Whether you want to eat healthy on a budget or drop a few pounds, it is always useful to only buy the products you really need. An old-fashioned shopping list is perfect for doing groceries. It ensures that you are not distracted when you are shopping by mostly unhealthy and often expensive products. Buy only what you need. You don’t need to know for the entire week what you exactly will eat, but if you have an idea of ​​what you need and you stick to your grocerie list, you’ll end up with less expensive groceries. Buy only the products you’ll really use. Throwing away food is a huge waste and can become a very expensive issue. If certain products that you really need are on sale, buy more of it. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Also, avoid the aisles in the middle of the store, because there you’ll find the most processed and unhealthy food. Buy more whole products. It is often way cheaper to skip the pre-cut carrots, and way better to buy carrots per kilo. Another tip, at eye level you will often find the most expensive items.

The beginning can be pricey

If you just started eating healthy, it can be quite expensive to fill your kitchen cupboards from scratch with healthy products. Don’t let that scare you though. Once you have a stash of healthy products (Celtic sea salt, tahini, almond butter, quinoa, Medjool dates, coconut oil and so on), you will see that these products all together will last you a long time. You can also slowly build up your kitchen cupboard supply.

lime fudge

Use your freezer

If you have a freezer, you really never have to throw away food. Frozen fruits and vegetables are great to have on hand for a quick meal, smoothies, soups or a quick healthy and inexpensive dessert. The freezer is perfect for leftovers to freeze for a quick meal for later without having to throw away food or to go out to buy an expensive lunch somewhere.

Buy in bulk

You can buy certain products in bulk. This can save you a lot of money. Grains, nuts, beans, lentils, dried fruits, seeds and so on are all available in bulk. Amazon is a great place to start buying products in bulk.

Cook yourself

Cooking at home is (of course) way cheaper than eating out. Create a routine so that it becomes a habit to cook your own food instead of going out for dinner and maybe even breakfast and lunch. This is not only cheaper, but also much healthier. You know exactly what is (and what isn’t) in your food.

Don’t go crazy in healthy supermarkets

I still feel like a kid in a candy store when I enter a healthy (bio) whole food store/supermarket. If you want to keep an eye on your budget, be extra cautious in these stores. Of course you can buy all the raw chocolate bars, veggie chips and raw cookies you like, but this will be pricey. Keep your shopping list with you and buy only what you need. For some it is really impossible to walk out without buying anything extra, the solution then is to shop online.

Don’t focus too much on superfoods

You do not have to buy all the expensive powders and superfoods to eat healthy. Vitamins from fruits and vegetables are still healthier than the dried superfood version. If you want (or need) superfoods in your life, go for the cheap superfoods such as cinnamon or turmeric or stick to just a few superfoods such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, wheatgrass and spirulina powder.

Snacks are expensive

If there‘s anything that can make healthy eating expensive, it would be the store bought snacks. It is more efficient and less expensive to make snacks and cookies yourself once a week. Make your own chocolate, brownies or energy balls for the whole week and don’t be tempted in the store. These crunchy cookies are so far the best to make for the whole week. They stay so crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

You’ll be surprised how much you can save if you prepare most of your meals yourself. A tea, a lunch, a snack and smoothie here and there … it can really become expensive.

Befriend beans

Whether you’re a carnivore or herbivore, beans and lentils are inexpensive and a nutritious product that you can find in almost any supermarket. They are super versatile and delicious in many dishes.

Mexican Fava Bean Soup (Sopa de Habas)

Buy seasonal produce and visit your local market

Local products you buy in season are usually cheaper, often contain the most nutrients and taste the best. The local market is often also much cheaper than the supermarket. Try to visit a local market every week and buy as much as possible. Freeze any left overs and you’ll save a lot of money.

Organic?

Organic food is often seen as more expensive and this may also be the case. Don’t let this discourage you from eating healthy. If you can’t buy organic products, it is still so much healthier to eat a piece of (not organic) fruit than no fruit at all. The ‘clean fifteen and dirty dozen list” is also very convenient when shopping on a budget. For instance, I will not really spend extra money on an organic avocado with a thick skin, but will find it in the long term worth the money to always buy organic apples.

Garlic, onions and herbs are little kitchen savers

I love cooking with garlic, onions and other spices and herbs. I’m really lost in the kitchen without it and personally perhaps very crazy about onions as well… These products are very healthy and super cheap! Each meal is so much better with a spice or a clove of garlic. In just minutes you have a delicious simple meal on the table. A little coconut oil with onions, garlic, spinach and quinoa or beans is an example, but this recipe is also a quick meal that is served in minutes.

Keep it simple

Many healthy plantbased dishes are pretty cheap. Homemade hummus, almond milk, oatmeal, roasted veggies, sauces, banana smoothies or just simple green leafy vegetables. Keep it simple, but make sure it is delicious!

I hope this will help if you want to eat healthy on a budget or if you feel that you are spending too much money on your groceries. Eating healthy on a budget doesn’t have to be very complicated or expensive.

photos by the green creator (c) (copyright)

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Hope Gleason
    March 7, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Eating locally, shopping in bulk, choosing more produce and eating less meat are saviors!

    • Reply
      Bianca
      March 7, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      🙂 indeed!

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