One of the complaints I most often hear from people trying to eat healthier is that healthy food is “tooooo expensive.” With some effort and planning, you can make eating healthy more budget-friendly, and just remember, the money you are spending on your food is worth it for the health of this body you live in!
My top tips:
– Buy in bulk and portion out and/or freeze
– Shop sales
– Buy produce seasonally
– Plan ahead
– Modify recipes
– Go for frozen fruits and veggies
– DON’T WASTE!!! (see below for tips to avoid throwing food out)
Let’s go through the different foods I eat, how to make the healthiest choices, and how I save some money on them.
Fruits and vegetables:
– Shop in season – Tomatoes in the middle of winter are twice the price AND they just don’t taste good. Buy the produce that’s in season right now where you live.
– Buy it on sale and stock up. Some fruit can be frozen for later (hello bananas for smoothies!). If you end up with broccoli instead of the $6 head of cauliflower your recipe calls for, well just change it up. It won’t be the same, but it’ll still be delicious.
– Often frozen fruits and vegetables are less expensive, and bonus: they’re usually picked at their very best quality and flash-frozen to maintain optimal freshness. Win win!
– canned vegetables aren’t my favourite at all, but canned corn occasionally shows up at our house, and sometimes you can find some good cost-effective options there.
– Sign up for a weekly produce basket. These are often huge money savers, and you usually get some new items to try.
– grow a garden – ok, so most of us don’t have the space or don’t want to put the time into it. I’ve found a few things are super easy to grow though – lettuce, kale, and arugula. It’s also so worth it to grow some herbs. My top herb garden choices are the super hardy ones like mint, rosemary, thyme, and chives.
For meats you’ll want to aim for 90% or leaner. You can buy several whole chickens to roast at a time, just make sure you remove the skin before eating. Again, shop the sales and freeze.
– Canned fish is absolutely a great choice, and much less expensive than fresh. Canned tuna is one of my favourite easy proteins to add to a salad. Just don’t go eating multiple cans per day.
– buy family packs (or shop at Costco). You can then portion out smaller amounts and freeze for future use.
– buy local – sometimes farmers will give you much better prices than in the stores
Aim for 2% fat or less, and low sugar. When you’re buying milks and yogurt, opt for plain unflavoured. You can always flavour your own yogurt at home with some fruit and a bit of honey
I’m again going to tell you to shop sales and stock up. Guess what – most dairy actually freezes and defrosts really well, especially the lower fat versions. You might need to fully let it defrost and then give it a stir or a shake, but it should still taste great. Cheese does get pretty crumbly after defrosting, so just crumble a bit into your morning omelet.
I buy brown rice, whole wheat or brown rice pasta, beans, and quinoa for dried carbs.. and occasionally some whole wheat breads or cereals.
Once again, go for sales. These items keep really well in dry cool areas, so you can buy in bulk.
Beans – I have a pressure cooker, so I can do a giant batch in like 30 minutes and freeze for later. No time? Canned is a great option too, just stock up when they’re on sale. And be flexible! When a recipe calls for black beans but all you have is red navy – doesn’t matter!
Every day I make sure I have my Shakeology to meet my nutritional requirements. I find it’s the best value for the quality of the nutrition I’m getting per serving. It’s my healthiest meal of the day.
How I avoid wasting produce that’s about to go bad:
I try to check on my veggies every day in case something’s extra wilty or about to melt into its surroundings. This is the most annoying way to lose food and is just like throwing money into a black hole. Don’t do it! Use those veggies up before they have to be chucked out.
Make a big stir fry
Vegetable omelets with whatever needs using
Throw them in soups (even lettuce can be cooked.. think of it as an extra fancy spinach)
Freeze it (I’ve been known to chuck whole bendy carrots and wilty celery into a freezer back and use it for chicken stock a month or two later.