The grocery store can get the best of our spending even when we have good intentions. The same can be said of eating out at restaurants and getting takeout at our desks. We may be trying to make healthy choices while working within our budget and still satisfying our cravings every once in awhile, but striking the perfect balance is hard.
Health coach Tracey Lemle, founder of Kale with a Side of Fries and 30 Day Money Cleanse bonus partner, offers great tips for how to eat healthy while on a budget. Before you make your grocery list, Tracey recommends that you set goals, intentions, or mantras to rely on during your healthy food journey. After reading the tips, pick one to implement each week. Starting small means that the process feels more manageable, and allows you to discover which tips are best suited for your lifestyle.
If you want more of Tracey, check out her bonus class offered to the 30 Day Money
Fresh fruits and vegetables are more nutritious and healthful than processed foods, and they always taste better too! Shopping for fresh food can also be a fun experience. Have you ever noticed how happy and bright the produce section of the grocery store is? Spend some time browsing for new fruits and vegetables to try. Or, if you have a farmers market in your area, check out what’s available from local growers and farmers. You might stumble on your new favorite green or discover a delicious vegetable you’ve never tried before. Seasonal food is less expensive than packaged food, and buying fresh is a huge part of eating healthy on a budget.
Have a craving? Rather than grabbing your phone and ordering takeout, see what you can make using ingredients you have on hand. If you’ve shopped for healthy ingredients, you can throw together something that’s nutritious but not boring! Use recipes for inspiration, but don’t be afraid to experiment. If you make something you love via improvisation, write down an approximate recipe so you can add it to your rotation. If you really don’t like cooking, try to find a handful recipes that feel manageable and that taste good and make you feel good too. Cooking at home doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the best meals are often the simplest ones!
Planning is key to sticking with any budget, and that includes your food budget! If you love dining out, figure out how many times per week you can treat yourself while still working towards your health and money goals. By knowing this magic number in your head, you’ll be able to plan better for the nights when you do eat at home. Try eating at home several nights per week and seeing how it goes. As you plan your meals for the week, make a grocery list, and force yourself to stick to it when you’re shopping. Some grocery stores even have services that shop for you, eliminating the chances of a last-minute unhealthy purchase. While there is an additional cost to this, you can weigh the added fee versus the cost of impulse buys. See what works best for you!
Leftovers are a great way to stretch your budget, and if you make a dish that makes several servings, you can eat it twice or even three times. If you make a huge batch, freeze half of it right away. This way, you won’t get sick of eating the same thing for an entire week, and you’ll have an easy meal for another time. You won’t believe how good a homemade freezer meal looks after a long day, and you’ll be less likely to reach for the takeout menus if you have a healthy and delicious dinner right at your fingertips.
While it’s definitely fun to have drinks out with friends, bar cocktails (and even wine and beer) can be marked up to 4x the price. Mixed drinks at bars often also contain lots of added sugar, and you can make the same drink at home in a much more healthy way. You don’t have to give up the fun of experimenting with different drinks just because you’re not at a bar. Invite some friends over and try out different recipes for drinks with a healthful spin.