Not So Unusual Ways For Eating Healthy on a Budget
Eating healthy foods is essential for general well-being. However, eating healthy on a budget takes proper planning and common sense. So how can you eat healthily without going broke when food is so expensive? Growing as much of your own food as possible is one approach to ensure a healthy diet. But what if you don’t have that option?
Planning your meals in advance is one of the simplest methods to eat healthy on a budget. This allows you to create a list of the foods you’ll need and avoid purchasing unnecessary ones. You can also buy in bulk and freeze meals for later use. Another suggestion is to buy locally grown foods such as seasonal vegetables because they are generally inexpensive and fresher. You can certainly eat healthy on a budget if you commit to following a strategy for doing so.
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Is eating healthy on a budget possible?
Yes, it is possible to eat healthy on a budget while still enjoying what you eat. In reality, many nutritious foods are tasty and filling. It all comes down to achieving the appropriate balance and including a range of nutrient-dense foods in your diet. You may develop a healthy and happy connection with food by making minor changes to your eating habits and experimenting with different recipes and ingredients.
This way eating healthy on a budget becomes the norm rather than the exception. Below are some not-so-unusual tips you can implement to eat healthy while staying on budget.
Where to shop locally for healthy foods when eating on a budget
If you have access to local farmers they are the best places to shop first. Also, try community gardens. Cities like New York City have plenty of them. If you don’t have access to local growers or community gardens, you can always visit your local farmers market or fruit stand (fruiteria) depending on where you live. But it’s important to buy the foods that are produced closest to where you live. Also, foods that are in season are usually less expensive than foods that have to be shipped in because they are out of season where you live.
Many communities have food cooperatives (co-ops) that sell healthy foods at a discount. You may be required to purchase a small membership or volunteer your service on occasion to make up for the ridiculously low prices they charge for food items. But the benefits go beyond saving money on healthy foods. You will find that you achieve a sense of community pride once you become involved with a food co-op.
Another local place you can shop is at your local food bank. Many food banks get their food from local supermarkets and growers. Although the food is generally given to families in need, you may be able to score food here depending on the organization. All the available foods may not be considered “healthy” but you will definitely find a wide variety of healthy food items at many food banks in your neighborhood especially if you live in a larger city.
Both the food co-op and food bank may require you to volunteer your service in order to take advantage of their food offerings. But don’t despair. Use this opportunity not only to save money on food but also to develop a community service plan involving your kids.
Buy in bulk
If you can buy your food in bulk then do it. Although buying fresh produce might seem counterproductive, keep reading to see what to do with fresh produce that you buy in bulk. You can purchase healthy foods in bulk from online shops like Thrive Market. The cost associated with shopping online may be mitigated due to the lower prices but do your homework and shop within your budget and you’ll be fine.
Foods like beans and healthy grains can be purchased in bulk to cut down on costs. You can store them a bit longer than fresh produce so that’s a plus. Also, consider investing in a small chest freezer if you have the funds and space for it. That way you can buy different varieties of meats, fish, and fresh produce and freeze them for longer-term use. Buy meats from your local butcher or visit a meat farmer near you a few times a year if it’s within your power to do so.
You can also subscribe to farmers who participate in a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture. This way you get a supply of fruits that are in season. Foods are mostly delivered direct to your door or you can make other arrangements. CSAs are a great way to feel a part of growing the foods you eat. You may find them at your local farmers market or online.
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money when you’re eating healthy on a budget. Also, consider the time and energy you save from not shopping as often. You will also gain a new perspective on how your food is produced.
Batch cooking for eating healthy on a budget
So you purchased some healthy foods in bulk to save money. But how do prevent all that food from going to waste and defeating its purpose? The answer is to cook in batches and/or flash freeze your fruits and veggies.
Batch cooking is a bit different from meal planning but they can go hand in hand to prepare and store the foods you buy for future use.
Batch cooking: preparing different foods ahead of time and store for use in different meals. For example, cooking dried beans and storing them for use in soups, stews, or other meals. Or you flash freeze spinach or broccoli to use in different meals later on. Most of these items will most likely end up in your freezer.
Meal planning: planning and preparing specific meals ahead of time usually for specific days of the week to save time during the week. These meals will likely be placed in the refrigerator for use during the week.
Flash freezing: The process of freezing fruits and vegetables quickly to allow you to keep the nutrients locked in for up to one year depending on the item. This video provides a quick and easy way to flash-freeze fruits and vegetables. Other methods exist so find what works best for you.
Both batch cooking and meal planning can help with ensuring the foods you buy in bulk don’t spoil and go to waste. Both are excellent plans to save both time and money when eating healthy on a budget. So how does this work?
I will talk about these things more in-depth in a future post. But I wanted to eliminate the excuses that come with wanting to buy healthy foods.
More tips for preserving foods that help with eating healthy on a budget: Learn to preserve foods through canning and fermentation. You’ll find that you enjoy the process. The upfront cost of purchasing supplies such as canning may outweigh any savings at first. But if you think it through it might just be one more way you can eat healthy while staying within your budget.
Eating healthy on a budget can become the norm once you develop a plan and stick to it. You may stray sometimes and that’s ok. But if you want to save money while eating a healthy diet it is important to stick with your plan.
Finally, I mentioned in the introduction that you could grow your own foods. This thought may be foreign to you but think about it. It’s not an impossible task. I plan to write about my experience growing food in my apartment in New York City while working full-time and studying as a solo mom. So stay tuned!
I hope these tips remind you that it’s possible for you to eat healthy on a budget. So try them. Make them your own. And let us know in the comments below what happened. Thanks.