How is your new year’s resolution going? If you’re like me, you’re about a month in and realizing how expensive eating healthy can be. So now you’re trying to find some ways to keep it going without spending $50/week (or more) on fresh veggies alone. So in looking up some ideas to keep my promise to myself alive without it cutting into my financial goals, I’ve compiled the 10 best tips (with links to the source article) that have already helped me on my way.
The single most important thing most people can do to eat healthier while saving money is to cook for yourself at home. Not prepared microwave meals. Real meals from fresh ingredients. And for many, this single piece of advice will be the most impactful on their weight, and their wallet.
Set a budget, research acceptable foods/ingredients, find some recipes, and plan out your meals and snacks. Without a plan you can easily fall into traps that impede your budget/health intentions. Traps that make you go off diet and over budget, like ordering takeout.
If you’ve followed the above two tips, buying in bulk not only becomes easier (as well as cheaper) but it also makes things so much more convenient. That convenience will play a vital role in the persistence of your goal of better health.
This tip came up a lot, but I linked to a blogger who decided to challenge herself to start a healthy and frugal eating routine. But she had some rules. And right at the top of them was “rule #1 – I will not suffer from this challenge”. And variety is how. Learn new recipes, find new healthy foods, and even build variety into your plan. And while it isn’t always the cheapest way to shop, eating less expensive foods one day may free up some budget for a more expensive splurge meal (healthy, of course) the next.
DUH! – Alright, this isn’t the best 2 word piece of advice, but if you take a look at the article, they do a great job outlining some of the best foods to stop eating so much of. Cut back on junk food, salty snacks, and alcohol. But for your health and your wallet, also try not to replace them. Stop snacking.
If this list were ranked in order of effectiveness, this would be #2 behind cook at home. For one, drinking more water is just healthier. Most people don’t drink enough. Second, many people tend to drink sugary drinks that have empty calories, a double no-no. Finally, water is cheap. Even if you can’t drink tap water. A 5 gallon jug of water is a significant amount less expensive than any other beverage by volume.
The American Heart Association has this at the top of their list and they do have a point. Red meat is a rather unhealthy and expensive protein, so cutting it from your diet will not only increase your health, but ease your wallet as well.
These categories of food tend to not only be nutrient rich and healthy, but they also can be incredibly inexpensive. There are (of course) more expensive varieties of each, but a good portion of your daily meals should focus right here if health & budgeting are your goals.
To be more specific than “grains”, focus on the whole grains. In some circumstances whole grains can be more expensive than their counterparts. However, with things like whole grain bread and brown rice, the price differences are negligible. And while we’re on the topic, brown rice isn’t just inexpensive, it can provide 5-10 good meals for under $2. It’ truly is a godsend for the frugal health nut.
Finally, this tip comes from stronglifts.com that may change the way you percieve fresh veggies. See, buying fresh is expensive. Not only because the food is pricey, but because you need to use it right away so you end up throwing much of it away. But certain fruits and veggies can actually be healthier frozen rather than fresh. Plus (as stronglifts.com points out) the convenience of frozen veggies is also a big plus.