Even though most people think eating healthy means dipping further into the budget, it really is not that bad.
A comprehensive study comparing healthy and unhealthy food costs in the British Medical Journal found the average daily increased cost of eating healthy was a mere $1.50 per day. In other words, for less than the cost of a medium vanilla latte, it is possible to change to a healthy diet without breaking the bank.
And you can save more than that $1.50 by making a few changes in the way you shop and cook.
1. STAY HOME FOR A CHANGE.
Fast food may seem cheap. Turns out, it really isn’t. For example, a package of raw chicken thighs costs $5 and that chicken can be used in three or four meals. That comes out to a much more budget-friendly option in the long run. The same goes for sit-down restaurants. Most of the time you’ll save money and eat fewer calories if you stay home.
2. EAT LESS MEAT.
We are raised thinking most meals should focus on meat as the main event. But meat can be expensive, especially red meat. Get your protein quota by relying on beans, nuts and even eggs. These options offer a bevy of health benefits and fill you up (research found beans are actually more filling than meat).
3. EAT IN-SEASON FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.
Many times there is a lot more of a vegetable or fruit when it is in season, making it more budget friendly. Check out the local farmers market and then buy and freeze for even better savings.
4. BUY CANNED AND FROZEN PRODUCTS.
Because many foods are processed right after they’ve been harvested, most of the nutrients have been preserved, making these just as healthy as fresh most of the time. Plus, they tend to be cheaper. Watch for sales for an even better bargain.
5. DROP THAT JUNK-FOOD HABBIT.
One of the easiest ways to cut back on your food bill is to stop buying soda, which has no nutritional value and a ton of sugar. Also stop buying alcohol, cigarettes and sugary items like cookies and candy. Nix them and you’ll trim the fat off your everyday expenses and your waistline.
6. PLAN MEALS AHEAD OF TIME.
Write a list, plan ahead and then cook for the week. This takes a little more time, but the savings can be substantial, as well as the health benefits.
7. MAKE A LIST, DO NOT GO SHOPPING HUNGRY. KEEP TO THE LIST.
Not only does this save you money but it stops the impulse buys, which almost always are unhealthy.
8. EAT WHAT YOU BUY.
This may sound simple, but one survey found that the average household throws out about $640 worth of food each year. Another study showed 76% of Americans admit they throw out leftovers monthly. That’s a lot of good food going to waste, and money.
9. GROW YOUR OWN.
It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Even if all you have room for is a container garden on a deck, you can grow lettuce, chard, kale, tomatoes, carrots and more, as well as herbs such as parsley, basil and dill. Home-grown produce tastes better and is much cheaper. For more savings, make your own salad dressing. It’s cheaper, healthier and tastes better.