Eating healthy doesn’t have to be overly expensive. Yes, it may take planning and some extra effort, but it’s well worth it in the long run.
My number one tip: Food should be a line item in your budget.
The keyword in “On a budget” is budget. If you aren’t (a) aware of how much money you spend per month in general, and (b) keeping track of your food expenses, do you really know how expensive food is for you? We spend money on our hair, on childcare, on getting to work, and on essentials for our home. How much are your food costs in comparison to other essentials you have to pay for? Put it all on paper and take some time to really figure out how much money you have in your budget for food. Also, consider all the money you may be wasting on junk food and fast food that could be switched for home cooked meals.
This is where your meal planning has to begin. You can look up all of the recipes in the world and look at 100 meal plans, but if those meals don’t fit your budget…you’ll get frustrated. I’ve seen people lose weight on a budget friendly diet of things like sweet potatoes, canned tuna, chicken breast, spinach, apples, bananas, protein powder, yogurt, brown rice, oatmeal, beans, eggs, frozen vegetables, frozen berries, etc.
Read up on how long you can keep foods and plan your leftovers
How long can you keep cooked chicken? How long will those leftovers say fresh in the freezer? Don’t wonder about food storage? Get those fingers moving and search online for the answers you need. Also invest in quality food storage containers (like these lunch boxes and these glass storage containers).
(Here is a list of meal prep tools that can help make prepping easier.)
When you plan your meals, think about leftovers. That chicken breast you had for dinner could be cut up and put on top of your lunch salad later in the week. That rice could be made on Sunday and eaten over the course of 2-3 days, depending on how it’s prepared. Think about how you can mix and match you proteins, veggies, and starches as you plan out your meals.
- How to start a food storage on $10 a week.
- Use By Dates: How long can you store food?
- 2 Simple Steps to meal prep success
- No BS-Guide to Food Prep
Use coupons for non-food items and visit warehouse stores
I regularly save money on household items like toothpaste, hair care products, toilet paper, paper towels, dishwasher pacs, laundry detergent and soap with coupons. I’m able to move that savings to buying quality food. More on couponing.
You can also visit warehouse stores, like Costco and BJs, for discounts on food and household items. You can use coupons there are get huge savings. You can also save money on gas at warehouse stores (which for me makes up for the membership fee). Can’t afford the membership fee? Find out if any of your friends or relatives have a membership are willing to help you get a better deal. Stock up on non-perishables that you read on a regular basis, like beans, brown rice, honey, whole wheat noodles, etc. If you have a large family, I really recommend considering how buying in bulk could help you save money.
Don’t just buy something because it’s “healthy”
One of the biggest ways we waste money is by buying healthy foods that we have no intention of eating. Spoiled veggies and meat are two of the main foods that people waste. As you transition to eating healthier foods, trying new things and expanding your food options, you have to be realistic. If you don’t have a recipe in mind or haven’t considered your meals for the week, don’t buy food that is going to go bad in a few days. It’s a waste of your hard earned money.