Being low on cash doesn’t mean that you have to buy unhealthy food. There are many options to help you pare down your diet and your food costs. You can cater to both your waistline and your wallet by following these easy tricks to save money while still eating right.
Bring Your Own Meal
For cheaper, healthier food look no further than your own kitchen. While eating out is often more convenient, cooking your meals at home and taking them to work or school is cheaper and healthier in the long run. When you make all of your meals at home you can control the amount of unhealthy ingredients used. Even sit-down restaurants tend to have fattier dishes than properly prepared home cooking.
According to one study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, people who eat at sit-down restaurants consume 187 more calories per day than people who eat food cooked from home. Restaurants may also mark up their food prices to pay for overheads and wages.
When eating healthy on a budget, most consumers know to cut back on expensive meals at restaurants, however, few realize the high cost of consuming unhealthy, expensive beverages. The USDA reports that more than 50% of Americans drink coffee every day and more than half of all American men consume soda daily. The rise in popularity of mixed coffee drinks has also hit consumers hard. While a cup of simple black coffee has 5 calories, a typical Frappuccino can contain hundreds of calories.
Mixed drinks may provide temporary relief for tired office workers needing a hit of caffeine, but in the long run buying a fatty $4 drink every day erodes bank accounts and calorie goals. Instead of opting for unhealthy caffeinated beverages and sodas, a healthy practice is to make nutritious smoothies at home and keep it with you throughout the day. Just as you should make your own meals to bring to work you should be doing the same with your drinks.
If your diet is full of expensive or unhealthy options, it’s time to find a healthier and cheaper substitution. Staple food items like rice, beans, and oatmeal are always a positive option. They are also easy to cook and carry with you. If you typically buy a lot of fruit and vegetables, consider buying them frozen. Often, fruits and vegetables in grocery stores have been on the shelf for months. Frozen fruits and vegetables have more nutrients locked in and will be less likely to spoil in your freezer. Additionally, they can be removed from your freezer and cooked at any time.
When it comes to food and nutrition, routine is key. You should plan your meals in advance and try to eat at a regularly scheduled time every day. By evenly spacing meals, you can resist the urge to snack. Setting aside a particular time and day for grocery shopping also helps you buy the same items every week.
If you schedule your shopping after meals, you will be less likely to make impulsive purchases of snack food and expensive treats. You can use a food diary or food journal to track your intake. There are also dozens of calorie-counting apps and food trackers available to help organize your nutrition needs.
A Penny Saved
Another tip to eating healthy on a budget is to buy in bulk. Buying in bulk can help to stave off expenses, but also keeps your pantry stocked. When making purchases at wholesale food stores, make sure that you purchase items that you will be able to finish before they go bad. If you are going to buy in bulk, but then just let it go to waste, then you are not just wasting food but also money.
When you can’t buy in bulk, pay attention to coupons and other deals at your local grocery store. You can find digital coupons online or peruse the Sunday paper for old-fashioned savings. Taking advantage of these deals make you an alert shopper and help you be in charge of what you pay.
Above all, make sure that you are learning everything that you can. This is the simplest of steps, but perhaps the most vital. Research the sales cycle of your favorite products and stock up when they hit their lowest price. Read from food labels and research any unfamiliar terms. Don’t be a passive shopper, but take charge of what you buy!
You can be both healthy and thrifty by following these easy solutions to save money and cut back on your calories. Say goodbye to overeating and overspending. By cooking your meals at home, choosing healthier options, sticking to a solid routine, researching deals, clipping coupons and cutting back on expensive drinks you can eat healthy on a budget.
Emma is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir, and eating healthy on a budget. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2