How To Eat Well on a Budget
When you are on a tight budget, grocery shopping can provide a lot of financial stress. In fact, this is one of the of the most common objections I hear from people about trying to eat healthily. However, here are some simple ideas about how to eat well on a budget to help ensure you are eating well while still living in financial freedom.
How to Eat Well on a Budget
1. The First Shop is the Deepest
When you transition to a healthier diet, the first grocery shop is always the most expensive. If you’ve thrown out everything in your pantry and are looking to overhaul it will healthy staples it can cost a small fortune to load it up with all of the healthy goods. I get it. However, once this is done, it’s smooth sailing, as you will only need to top up items here and there as they run out. And remember, you don’t need to buy every nut butter, oil, herb and spice under sun on day one. Just buy items as you need them and eventually you’ll be fully stoked.
2. Buy in Bulk
For items like nuts, seeds, grains and flours buying in bulk is great option. There are lots of stores that specialize in this alone, as well as plenty of online websites you can purchase from as well. Buying in bulk helps you control the cost as buying them in small quantities can get quite costly, since the packaging alone can cost up to 15%-20% of the price.
3. Don’t Go Crazy for Superfoods
Although “superfood” can be incredibly healthy, you don’t need them to eat well. Cacao nibs, chia seeds, flax seed, hemp hearts and bee pollen are all wonderful, but if they are not in the budget you don’t need to stress over it. Your morning smoothie will cost you over $10 once you’ve added dates from Morocco, organic Mexican chia seeds and salt from the Himalayan mountains; when some simple scrambled eggs would do the trick.
4. Shop Internationally
The international aisle in your local grocery store, or international grocery stores are full of amazing and inexpensive finds! You can often get pantry staples of things like grains, nuts, seeds, and sauces at a fraction of the cost to grocery stores without skimping on quality. For instance, items like tahini, hummus, hot sauces and spices can be double to triple the cost at the grocery store. My Middle Eastern supermarket sells tahini at $3.99 a tub vs. $7.99 at the grocery store.
5. Don’t Panic Over Organic
While it can be better to eat organic, it’s better to eat non-organic vegetables rather than no vegetables at all! If you haven’t already done so, check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list from the Environmental Working Group. The Dirty Dozen are the 12 “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides and herbicides that you want to try and buy organic whenever you can, while the Clean Fifteen you can get away without buying organic.
6. Shop Seasonally
I never buy fresh berries in the winter because they cost a fortune and honestly don’t taste great. When things are in season buy them in bulk and freeze them for later on; there is nothing more enjoyable than pulling local frozen blueberries out of the freezer in the dead of winter. And regardless of the season, you are much better off buying local seasonal produce over kiwis flown in from New Zealand. (The fruits not the people.) Not only are there important benefits to eating locally, but there are also important health benefits, and eating seasonally will trump eating organic any day.
7. Stock up on Root Veggies
Root vegetables are so underrated! Root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turninp and celeriac are incredibly filling and so inexpensive. If you are not familiar with them all, take a walk on the wild side and try a little something new. They can help create a hearty soup, stew or side dish for a very small cost.
8. Love the Lesser Cuts
When opting for meats, buy the less popular cuts. Everyone seems to love a chicken breast, but what about the rest of the bird?! Cuts like chicken thighs are just as nutritious as chicken breasts at a fraction of the cost, and trying different cooking methods like stewing, braising or slow cooking helps make tougher cuts more tender and juicy.
9. Get Plant-Powered
Eating more vegetarian meals is a great way to cut costs while eating well. Items like beans and lentils are a fraction of the cost of meat, and a humble can of beans can serve up to 4 people. Beans and lentils are packed with protein and fibre to help keep you full and they are incredibly versatile as well, so choosing plant-based proteins is great for your health and your wallet.
10. Don’t Freeze over Frozen
Don’t be shy when it comes to frozen fruits and vegetables. Depending on the time of year, frozen fruits and vegetables can actually be more nutritious than fresh. Frozen options are often harvested and packaged at peak of ripeness so they can often be a more nutritious and better-tasting option than fresh.