5 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Tight Budget
Are you on a tight budget and struggling to find ways to eat healthy?
Groceries seem to be the first place families compromise health, in order to pinch some pennies.
Here are 5 ways to eat healthy with delicious and healthy food when you’re on a tight budget.
1. Cook food that is microwave-friendly or can be easily assembled later on
Avoid making things that won’t taste good when reheated or the next day (crispy food, salads, and food with bread). For the vegetarian, you can pre-make most of the stuff and just fry an egg and assemble when you’re ready to eat. Microwavable meals means you can easily assemble and get a delicious, hot meal fast! This doesn’t mean you’re limited to only soups and stews, there is a huge variety of microwave-friendly foods that you can make!
2. Buy whatever vegetables are on sale and find out what grocery stores have cheap fresh produce.
It’s nice to buy organic, local produce. It’s also expensive and tough to find. What’s more important to you and your family: Being full on inexpensive, healthy foods; being hungry on expensive, organic foods; or being full on inexpensive, unhealthy foods? Most of you would opt for full, inexpensive, and healthy.
We need to stop equating healthy food to organic food because all it does is put healthy eating out of reach for many people. Take a bit of time to figure out which store is cheaper and has fresher veggies, don’t make assumptions. Spending a couple of hours one day to compare different grocery stores in your area will result in big savings immediately.
3. Go to alternative grocery stores (Asian Grocers / Aldi) for cheap spices and produce.
Whenever I go to the “big name” grocery stores I am shocked at the high price of leafy green vegetables, rice, and spices. Along the lines of #2 about spending a bit of time to find cheap grocery stores, I’ll save you some time by letting you in on a secret: Large Asian (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian) supermarkets usually have a huge selection of produce, brown rice, and spices at unbeatable prices.
Avoid smaller stores!! Their convenience is a budgeting TRAP! You go in for milk, and then realise you need cheese and greek yogurt for your kids kindy lunch the next day and wind up paying $10 for a small block of cheese and know you can buy that tub of yogurt from the big store for $5, but its too far away so the $8 version of the same product seems acceptable.
4. Buy cheap proteins (eggs, cheaper cuts of pork and chicken, etc.). Eat more vegetables than meat.
A lot of people say that eating meat and animal protein isn’t important and you can get all your nutrients from tofu versions. I think it lacks variety, is often more expensive, and isn’t very healthy as a lot of the tofu substitutes are heavily processed.
Eggs are a super cheap protein and iron source for growing kids and hardworking adults. It is a good idea to scour the grocery stores for the cheap cuts of meat and make them delicious with flavour (try slowcooking). But don’t make meat the bulk of the meal!
A general rule of thumb is: The amount of vegetables you eat should be more than the amount of meat. Guaranteed if you eat a pound of vegetables first, you won’t have room for a pound of steak! Easy rule of thumb to build the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.
5. Buy canned goods, frozen fruit, and boxed dry goods — watch out for sodium! Look for sales and buy in bulk!
I use canned beans and tomatoes all the time, buy frozen berries for an easy, healthy dessert, and buy bulk brown rice, couscous, and quinoa when on sale. You don’t have to worry about food going bad or weekly shopping like you do with fresh produce. SIDE NOTE Australia is one of the most wasteful countries in the world. The average family will throw out 20% of their groceries each week, equating to $1,036 per annum.
Be careful about sodium when buying canned items. Look for canned goods that are NOT pre-spiced and find the lowest sodium level. Buy canned tomatoes that have no salt or spices added and and rinse all the canned beans before cooking to wash away the salt. Stick to frozen fruit to avoid syrupy canned fruit. Don’t bother with the small bags meant for smoothies, they’re overpriced. Opt for the large 1kg, resealable bags and mix and match as desired.