How To Eat Healthy On A Budget

Aren’t you tired of wasting your money?

You want to start eating healthy, but you don’t have much time for it. So you end up buying any food to push throughout the day.

Shockingly, you feel like having less energy than before you ate. That means less motivation to work on your career or to create healthy habits.

More chances to follow unhealthy diets.

Everybody is busy. But if we are what we eat, do we really save time with fast processed food? You might save a bit, but you’ll earn less. How is that possible?

You’re having a hard day at work, so you buy some junk food. Although you stop feeling hungry, that meal didn’t give you energy. Also, you’re spending most of it on digesting useless food.

Because of the high-calorie count, you will overeat. That’s what causes the afternoon slump and brain fog.

Hey, eating healthy doesn’t need to be expensive. It can be cheaper than processed food if you stick to healthy habits.

The problem is, junk food is everywhere. It’s cheap because:

  • You can mass-produce it.
  • They don’t have much nutritional value.
  • They have chemicals to enhance flavor.
  • They can stay on the shelves for years without quality issues.

If you already bought some, you’ll keep spending energy at home resisting junk food. Whether you want to save money or eat healthily, the challenge starts at the supermarket.

Why Healthy Meals Don’t Cost Much

Healthy products can vary a lot in price. While you can save money today, you’ll also make more money long term. If these products help you sleep better, focus at work, prevent diseases, and feel happier, why not buy as many as we can?

Fresh is cheaper than processed food

By cheaper, we mean you get more value (calories per dollar). Those who process food want it to taste delicious and last long, not keep you healthy.

Essentially, both types are just as cheap. But their purposes are different. Do you want to feel good now or feel much better later?

Natural products are more available

When visiting supermarkets, you can find almost any product you can imagine. But that doesn’t mean every single one of them is good for you. These companies make money from selling these to you. 

They persuade you to buy whether you need them or not!

On the other hand, you could look at essential products as commodities. There’s not much difference from one brand to another, and people keep buying them regardless of marketing.

Surprisingly, small local stores are usually the best place to buy healthy food for cheap (including ethnic markets). Unlike big brands, farmer family businesses have lower expenses and profit goals. 

They neither care that much about product preservation. Not only is it cheaper but more natural.

Seasonal food gives better value

Prices change throughout the year based on supply and demand. 

You can wait until the supply increases so that prices drop. Or wait until the end of the season, when sellers rush to sell the remaining units.

That makes the opposite trend too expensive (Summer VS Winter seasonal products).

Seasonal or not, most people don’t eat healthy, which lowers their demand. Take advantage of lower prices.

How To Save On Healthy Meals?

Healthy meals give the most value. We’ll give you some tips, but your main saving goal should be avoiding processed products.

In this guide, you’ll find how to save the most on groceries. 

#1 Keep the shopping essential

With some products, you can take the cheaper brand, because there’s barely any difference between them.

But how do you choose from so many variations of cheese, nuts, fruits, and vegetables? Some may cost 3X more than others.

Quality and flavor may change, but nutrients are almost the same. Go for the lower end and only spend more on special occasions.

#2 Prioritize fats and vegetables

Fats have more calories than any other type, and these don’t have to be unhealthy. Peanut butter, eggs, nuts, and avocados can make great dishes for a reasonable price.

Vegetables are dense in nutrients and vitamins, aside from feeling satiating. You won’t need many to have a good meal, and most cost under a dollar per kilo. 

#3 Create a meal plan with few variations

It’s easier to save when you’re not buying things you don’t need. Instead of looking at the discount signs, stick to your shopping list.

Although you can, you don’t need much variety to eat healthily. Having fewer products makes it easier to stock, organize, and cook. Otherwise, you have to check a long list whenever you run out of ingredients.

You don’t need to count calories on every meal. Find out what products you like that are healthy, and buy enough of those for the week.

#4 Lower the cost of protein

Protein repairs the body and improves mental alertness. But when reviewing your meal plan, meat is probably taking the most of your budget.

We’re not telling you to become vegetarian. If you can lower the protein cost without relying on meat, you’ll save more than by following all the other advice combined.

Try salmon, tuna, eggs, peanut butter, cheese, lentils, spinach, or edamame. That should be enough variety to replace meat in most meals.

#5 Stack non-perishable items

Add tea bags, peanut butter, honey, canned tuna, dried fruits, canned beans, grains, nuts, and spices.

These items can last for years, and you’ll keep buying them no matter what. If you find a promotion at the supermarket, take advantage. 

For large quantities, you should consider buying in bulk from larger providers. Prices are cheaper than after the product arrives at the supermarket.

#6 Cook more often

Cooking may count as processing food. Although that doesn’t make cooking unhealthy, you’ll pay an extra $ to prepare meals. 

Cooking doesn’t need to take a lot of time. With enough practice, you can multitask to finish sooner. 

Instead of buying food or cooking whenever you feel hungry, think in advance. 

  • Choose one day to do the shopping. You’ll save time and gasoline.
  • Choose a few days to prepare all your weekly meals. You’ll save time, gas, water, and electricity costs.

Should you still go out for dinner? Unless you have more money than time, only go for special occasions. You can always find a cheaper place when your goal is to save on healthy food.

#7 Think twice about supplements

You don’t need any supplements when following a healthy, balanced diet. Keep in mind that your body will only take the necessary nutrients. It will ignore anything extra.

Supplements can help you rescue a hard day or whenever you skip meals. But avoid depending on them.

The only supplement that makes sense is whey protein. One serving is around 20g of protein, ~2g of carbs, and ~2g of fat. Protein powder has better value than meat.

You don’t need to follow a workout routine to buy whey protein. But you may want to exercise as well if you look to eat healthily.

#8 Anti-inflammatory diet

These natural products will give you just enough energy to win your day without over-eating. Anti-inflammatory meals prevent diseases and help you feel much lighter after eating (easy to digest).

Examples include legumes, oatmeal, broccoli, salmon, spinach, avocados, and chicken.

Low inflammation costs less money and takes less energy to process. Side effects include more focus and better sleep.

#9 Intermittent Fasting

Some people look at food as a waste of time and money. They wish the body didn’t require much energy so that they can do what they want without worrying about eating.

Well, intermittent fasting is the healthiest way to save money by eating less. You spend 8h-24h without having meals (you can drink water), which allows your body to rest and clean itself.

If you can overcome hunger, you will find yourself much lighter and sharper mentally (you can earn more at work). 

When finished, you can either make one big meal or follow your usual diet frequency.

Remember to eat healthily enough before you fast, or the challenge will become too steep.

Beware Of These Myths

  • Not all healthy fats are cheap, but you have enough variety. Buy products based on what you can afford.
  • “Natural” and “processed” means absolutely nothing. Processed foods can have the “100% Natural” label and still be unhealthy. And “processed” neither means it will kill you.
  • Not all carbs are bad.4 for your health These are the body’s primary source of energy. If you exclude the refined and sugars, carbohydrates are satiating and cheap: often, the main ingredient of any meal.
  • You don’t need to follow the plan all the time. Your meal plan gives references for what you need to do to be healthy and save money. You can have “cheat meals” as long as it doesn’t become a habit. If you’re having trouble with it, however, you’ll have a better time if you remove them completely (for a month or two).
  • You can have fitness objectives and still save on healthy food. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars a week when you’re getting enough nutrients already. Natural isn’t more expensive than processed.
  • Your ability to save depends on your healthy habits. Imagine all the dollars you can save on beer, sugar, coffee, or junk food. Unless you’re buying for the whole family, your habits affect your wallet directly.

You might also be interested in the best day to buy plane tickets, getting and staying out of debt and how to prepare for a recession.

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