At times, YES it can be—but it doesn’t have to be! I’m not an expert by any means, but I hope some of these tips might steer you in the right direction or make you think of ideas that can work for you. Between my 9-6pm job, personal training, Soul Strong, church activities, friend time, marriage and home life, the last thing I want to do is spend all night in the kitchen.
At the end of the day, I’d rather pay the money up front for a healthy body, than pay the money down the road for the meds and doctor visits. My health is a priority, and therefore, an investment. Not gonna lie, it’s definitely where a huge chunk of our monthly budget comes from, but we try not to break the bank, especially when living a super busy lifestyle and craving convenience. This list is work in progress 🙂
Eating Healthy on a Budget
Save going out to eat for very special occasions. Once or twice a month? Maybe people hate that I do this, but even when I schedule lunch dates, I often ask if we can bring out lunches and meet to eat together in the park, or at a Starbucks. I’d rather make that $$$ go further for our family to eat well on a daily basis.
Eat Frozen: not the TV dinners, but veggies, no sugar added organic berries, or pre-made bulk meals from the weekend. Fresh is typically more expensive, especially if it’s not in season. To save time, use a steamer. This thing has made cooking vegetables so easy. Plus, it keeps more nutrients in the vegetables than boiling, AND takes about 8 minutes. Leave them in there, come back, and it’s ready to dish.
Buy heavy on the sales! When the chicken goes on sale, we easily stock up on 6-8 packs and freeze them, knowing we will consume them at some point in the next month. When the wheat pasta goes on sale, our entire cabinet is filled with it so we don’t need to buy it for many months.
Be realistic. We don’t buy organic chicken at this point, but settled for the natural chicken with no antibiotics or preservatives. It’s awesome if you can do everything organic, but the reality is, it can double your grocery bill. Be picky and decide what you will and won’t give on. We go organic on the Dirty Dozen vegetables and all our fish is Wild Caught, but other than that, we just do the best we can. Our nutrition isn’t perfect, but it works for where we are in this phase of life. Do some research on what’s most important to you to splurge on.
Buy some things canned. You don’t want to live off of a canned diet obviously because of the preservatives, but soup on sale or wild salmon is a wonderful thing to stock up with in the Winter. Another way we save money to eat the foods our bodies really need, is doing soup for a meal once every couple of weeks. This is the lazy man’s go-to. So maybe we don’t feel super stuffed afterwards, but we don’t mind denying ourselves occasionally to eat really well for all other meals.
Plan Ahead. Each Sunday I try to create a meal game plan for the week to make sure we don’t waste any food or let anything go bad. I look at the calendar. If I know we won’t have time the next night to make dinner, I make double the night before. On Sunday, I often take an hour to pre-make big quantities of items I can keep in the fridge, and throw together to heat up during the week in less than 5 minutes. We almost always have extra baked chicken and quinoa in containers in the fridge!
Get the rewards card! The Giant where we shop (we go to Trader Joes for a few cheaper fresh items occasionally), offers gas points for grocery items. I can’t even tell you how much money we have saved on gas!! sometimes knocking 30 cents off each gallon. If you spend a little more on healthy foods, you may be able save in other areas. Take advantage of these deals! I haven’t found time to get into coupon-ing in the “city life”, but maybe that’s something that you could try! SO many websites dedicated to the secrets of coupon-ing.
Cut out the juices–they’re super high in sugar without the fiber– and cut out Milk. The only drinks we buy are almond milk or coconut milk to put in shakes, whichever of those happens to be on sale. Other than that, water is our life-blood. Humans have no nutritional requirement for milk and most Americans have a hard time digesting it anyway. Opt for things like white beans, kale, almonds, or tofu to get your calcium.
Eat the same thing. Variety can be costly. We try to branch out with something “new” biweekly if possible or on a Friday date night at home. But we mostly rotate dinner between the same kinds of foods and just use different seasonings each time. Studies show people that are successful with healthy diets stick to what they know (and they know how much it costs!) Making different recipes is cool…ain’t no body got time for that everyday…
Ie. We choose one from each category:
*Meat: Chicken, 99% Lean Ground Turkey, Fish. (occasional red meat) *Vegetables: Broccoli, Tomatoes, Spinach, Green Beans, Cucumbers, Cauliflower, Spaghetti Squash (super cheap!) *Complex Carb: Quinoa, Brown Rice, Wheat pasta, Sweet Potato (these are EASILY heated quickly in the microwave). We often get fats from cooking with olive oil or coconut oil.
We have Shakeology for breakfast every morning. Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, adaptogens, probiotics, pre-biotics, over 70 all natural superfoods in a meal-replacement shake… if we spend the money to get all of those things separately we would easily spend an extra $400 a month. We no longer buy bagels, bars, yogurts and cereal for breakfast, we just stick to our $3.30 (coach rate) dense nutritional breakfast to start our day off right, even if we end up not having the perfect lunch/dinner. The convenience, extra energy, and digestion improvement is really worth it for us!!
Go Vegetarian one day a week. Consuming 2 boiled eggs and quinoa for your protein is a lot cheaper than a 8oz piece of quality meat. It might take getting used to for those meat-lovers out there (myself included!), but I promise it’s just as nourishing! I usually boil one dozen eggs for lunch snacks and quick salads additions, and keep another dozen fresh on hand for cooking purposes. Beans are another cheap option!
Check the Unit Price. See which is cheaper: buying a bigger box, or buying multiple smaller ones. We tend to buy bigger quantities for things like almonds, brown rice, and chia seeds, that take forever to go bad. Some people love buying fresh groceries every week, but it saves us a lot of time to try to make our food go further.
Research/Trial and Error. There are several grocery chains near us. Over time, we’ve started to look at our reciepts and compare prices. We have to weigh getting gas points or saving on non-name brand items at Giant with saving money on fresh cheaper vegetables or specialty organic items at Trader Joes. I try not to go to BOTH each shopping trip because time is money, but as we run out of things I see which store caters to what we need most and has the best sale at the time.
I hope this helps!! I would love feedback from YOU as to how you save money and eat healthy.