Ditching the processed foods and switching to real, healthy foods can be intimidating, especially if you’re on a budget. Many families consume processed foods because it’s what they can afford, especially some who use coupons. Coupons for natural, organic, grass-fed, free-range and real food in general are few and far between.
Whether you’re just feeding yourself or a family, I will show you how you can afford to eat healthy. Learn how to eat healthy on a budget with this compilation of resources from couponers, bloggers, authors, websites and mobile apps.
The Cost of Food
The cost of food is the largest factor in one’s ability to eat healthy on a budget. It is also the single most inhibiting factor. The easiest way to overcome this hurdle is to reverse engineer the process. Grocery lists are often prepared based on what you have on hand, meals you prepare for yourself or your family often or simply on whim based on cravings. On another note, sometimes grocery lists are not prepared at all.
What’s On Sale
Gathering a list of grocery items you already have on hand is a good starting point. After that, you should take a look at what’s on sale and then build your meals around sale items. Store circulars, coupon and deal websites are often filled with savings on processed foods.
That makes eating healthy on a budget even more challenging. A good tactic to use when you’re first starting out on a mission to eat healthy on a budget is to stick to the produce and meats section. When you’re reviewing what’s on sale focus only on the items that you’ll find in the produce and meats section. If you need to snag a deal on frozen vegetables, that’s most certainly okay.
There are several ways to check what’s on sale. For some stores, it is essential to join free membership programs such as savings club cards to benefit from sales and deals.
Pick up a Sunday newspaper. In many locales, the Sunday edition is available as early as Saturday morning. Browse through store circulars circling the items or making a list from it, along with a meal plan.
Visit the store’s website. Many grocery chains have an online circular. The larger grocery chains have interactive online circulars from which you can create a shopping list, such as Kroger and Publix.
My Grocery Deals is another free site that offers tools to aid you in your journey to eat healthy on a budget.
Coupons for Natural, Organic, Gluten-Free and Special Diets
Finding coupons for foods that are healthy or for foods that tailor to special diets is a challenge. If you’ve located a specific brand which meets a specific nutrition or special diet need, you may benefit by visiting the brand’s website periodically and/or signing up for their newsletter or connect via social media.
For non-branded (per se) items such as fruits, vegetables or meat, many big box grocery chains have their own private labeled natural and organic versions. To make sure you receive the most up to date information on sales or deals, you should do the same. Get connected to stay connected and you’re on your way to eating healthy on a budget.
Beyond the Cost of Food
The biggest misconception of how to eat healthy on a budget is that it’s all about the cost of the food itself. While the cost of food plays the largest part of eating healthy, several other factors play a critical role.
Simply put, you’re likely eating too much. Counting for weight loss or even weight maintenance will help guide you on portion control. Eating less means you’re spending less and you’re on the journey to eat healthy on a budget. The typical American plate consists of 2 to 3 times the amount of food you should actually be eating. Proteins should be consumed in 3-4 ounce portions.
A food scale is a great investment for those looking to achieve or maintain optimal health. Too much of anything is not always a good thing. Using smaller plates or other food containers that offer portion control, such as FitPlate is another way to make sure you’re not overeating.
Stop Paying for Water
Purchasing bottled water might seem like a good idea, when in fact, you could invest in and keep up a water filter for your faucet, a pitcher with a filter or filtered water bottles. Pur offers rewards and coupons. That Vitamin Water or Sobe Life Water you’re drinking…STOP! You’re better off infusing your water with fresh fruit juice.
Unplanned Trips to the Grocery Store
Failure to plan your trips to the grocery store will negate your efforts to eat healthy on a budget, or a budget at all. Unplanned trips result in impulse buys, especially if you’re not well fed before your trip. If you must take an “unplanned” trip to the grocery store or a trip to pick up a single item missing from your inventory that’s required to complete a meal, bring just enough cash to make the purchase. If you don’t have cash, grab a hand basket or small cart. Beware of behemoth shopping carts!
Not Enough Time to Eat Healthy
No matter what you do or who you are, there’s never enough time in the day. Time is a huge factor in why we resort to pre-packaged convenience foods. However, if you invest your time in learning new recipes, you’ll be able to prepare healthy meals more swiftly. If you own an eReader, you will find an endless supply of eCookbooks for free. Many of these eCookbooks simplify the preparation and cooking processes.
You might also consider a food delivery service, such as HelloFresh, to teach you how to cook more wholesome, fresh meals. HelloFresh is a weekly service, however subscribers have the ability to control how few or how many deliveries they receive. HelloFresh provides all the ingredients you need, as well as recipe cards.
Stay tuned to cooking shows and recipe websites or even Pinterest to sharpen your cooking skills.
Stocking up on real foods, such as fruits, vegetables and meats requires equipment and storage. Canning equipment, reusable storage containers, vacuum sealers and a stand alone freezer are worth the investment if you wish to eat healthy on a budget. Don’t buy items that you won’t use just because they’re on sale, unless you plan on donating them.
There’s the grocery list, then there’s the meal plan. Making a list of items you wish to buy is almost useless without a meal plan. Figure out what items you’re going to buy and more importantly, what you will do with them.
Leave the Extras at Home
Finally, to stay focused, leave the kids and extras at home. As appealing as it is to have a helper while grocery shopping, he who has the best discipline should go alone.