There’s no doubt Some Healthy foods can be expensive, they could even be considered luxuries. Therefore, it can be feel difficult to “eat well” when you’re on a tight budget. However, as I discovered when I was hit by hard times, there are many ways to save money and still “eat well” for less.
Here are some of my super savvy tips that can help you “eat well” for less & stay healthy on a budget.
1. Plan Your Meals ahead!
When it comes to saving money at the supermarket, planning is an essential. Use one day each week to plan your meals for the upcoming week. Then, make a shopping list of what you need. Also, make sure to take stock of your fridge and cupboards to see what you already have. There are usually a lot of foods forgotten about in the back that can be used. You can reduce your household food waste by only planning to purchase what you know you’re going to use, so that way you don’t end up throwing away a lot of what you buy.
2. Stick to Your Shopping List!
Once you’ve planned your meals and made your shopping list, STICK to it. It’s very easy to get side-tracked once you’re in the supermarket, which can lead to unintended & expensive purchases. As a rule, I try to shop the perimeter of the store first. This will make you more likely to fill your trolley with whole foods, fresh veggies, meat, eggs etc. The middle of the store often contains the most processed and unhealthy foods, crisps, cakes & biscuits. If you find yourself in these aisles, look to the top or bottom of the shelves rather than straight ahead. The most expensive items are usually located at eye level.
For the tech geeks, there are now many great shopping list apps to help you shop. Some of them can even save favourite items or share lists between multiple shoppers. Opting for an app is also a great way to make sure you don’t ever leave your list at home.
3. Cook at Home!
Cooking at home is much cheaper than eating out. Get into the habit to cook at home, rather than eating out at the last minute. Usually, you can feed an entire family of 4 for around the same price as buying food for one or two people at a restaurant. Some people find it best to cook & prep meals for the entire week on the weekends, while others cook one meal at a time. However, you choose to cook, cooking yourself, you also gain the added benefit of knowing exactly what is in your food.
4. Cook In bulk and Use up Your Leftovers!
Cooking large meals or batch cooking can save you both time, stress and money. The Leftovers can be used for lunches, in other recipes or frozen in single-portion sizes to be enjoyed at a later date. Leftovers usually make very good soups, stews, stir-fries, salads and burritos. These types of meals are ideal especially for people on a budget.
5. Don’t EVER Shop When You’re Hungry!
If you go to the supermarket hungry, you are more likely to stray from your shopping list and buy something on impulse rather than in good judgement. When you’re hungry, you often crave foods that aren’t on your list, ones that are not good for you or your budget. Try to grab a piece of fruit, yogurt or other healthy snack before you go to the shop.
6. Buy Whole Foods!
Some foods are way cheaper in its less processed form. For example, a block of cheese is cheaper than grated cheese and canned beans are cheaper than refried ones. Whole grains, like brown rice and oats, are also cheaper per serving than most processed sugary cereals. The less processed foods are also often sold in larger quantities (bulk) and have more servings per package.
7. Buy Saver Brands!
Most stores offer saver or value brands for nearly any product. All food manufacturers must follow standards to provide safe food. The generic saver brands may be the same quality as other well-known brands, just less expensive. However, read the ingredients lists to make sure that you’re not getting a product of lower quality than you’re used to.
8. Stop Buying so much Junk Food!
Cut out some of the junk foods from your diet. You would be surprised to see how much you may be actually paying for coke, crackers, biscuits, pre-packaged meals and processed foods. Even though they offer very little nutrition and are packed with unhealthy levels of sugars & salts, they are also very expensive. By skipping the processed and unhealthy foods, you can spend more of your budget on higher quality, healthy foods.
9. Stock up on Offers!
If you have favourite products or store cupboard staples that you use frequently, you should stock up on them when they’re on offer. If you’re sure that it’s something you’ll use, you may as well stock up and save a little money. Just make sure that it will last for a while and won’t expire in the meantime (check the best before date) It will not save you any money to buy something you’ll end up throwing out later on.
10. Buy butchers! Cheaper Cuts of Meat!
Visit your local butcher! Fresh lean meat and fish can be quite expensive. However, you can get many cuts of meat that cost way less. These are great to use in burritos, casseroles, soups, stews and stir fries. If you have the room in the freezer it may also be helpful to buy a large and inexpensive cut of meat to use in several different meals during the week.
11. Replace Meat with Other Lean Proteins!
Eating less meat may be a good way to save money. It has also proven health benefits. Try having one or two days “meat free” per week. These are days where you use other protein sources, such as legumes, hemp seeds, eggs or tinned fish. These are all very inexpensive, very nutritious and easy to prepare. Most of them also have a long shelf life and are therefore less likely to spoil quickly.
12. Shop for Seasonal produce!
Local produce that is in season is generally cheaper. It is also usually at its peak in both nutrients and flavour. Produce that is not in season has often been transported halfway around the world to get to your supermarket, which is not good for either the environment or your budget. If you buy more than you need, you can freeze the rest or incorporate it into next week’s meal plans.
13. Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables instead of fresh!
Fresh fruits, berries and vegetables are usually in season only a few months per year and can be rather expensive.
Fact – Quick-frozen produce is usually just as nutritious if not more so. It is cheaper, available all year round and is usually sold in larger bags. Frozen produce is fantastic to use when cooking, making smoothies, or as toppings for porridge or yogurt. Furthermore, you gain the advantage of being able to take out only what you’re about to use. (Portion control) The rest will be kept safe from spoiling in the freezer. Reducing food waste is a great way to save money.
14. Buy big or in Bulk!
Buying some foods in big quantities can save you a lot of money. Grains, such as brown rice, millet, barley and oats, are all available in bulk. They also keep for a long time if you store them in airtight containers. This is also true for dried beans, lentils, some nuts and dried fruits These are all staple foods that are relatively inexpensive and can be used in a wide variety of healthy balanced meals.
15. Grow Your Own Produce!
If you can, it is a great idea to grow your own produce. Even the smallest home can “grow your own!” (investigate space saving growing ideas) Seeds are very cheap to buy. With some love, time and effort, you may be able to grow your own herbs, sprouts, tomatoes, onions and many more delicious veggies. Having a continuous fresh supply at home saves you money at the shop. Home-grown produce may also taste a lot better than the shop-bought counterparts. You can also guarantee that it is been picked at the perfect moment of peak ripeness.
16. Pack Your Own Lunch!
Eating out is very expensive, especially if done with regularity. Packing your own lunch, snacks, drinks and other meals is definitely less expensive and way healthier than eating out. If you have opted to cook large meals at home, you’ll always have a steady supply of lunches to bring with you without any additional effort or cost. It does require some forward planning, but it should save you a lot of money at the end of the month.
17. Use vouchers, loyalty points & Coupons Wisely!
Vouchers/Coupons/loyalty points are a great way to save some money. Just be sure to use them wisely. TBH Most coupons are for unhealthy, junk foods so shop around and sort out the good quality deals from the junk, and stock up on those cleaning products, any healthy foods and other staples that you will definitely use. By cutting the cost of some of these products needed around the house, you can spend more of your budget on healthy & a few indulgent foods.
18. Think outside the box with Less Expensive Foods!
There are a lot of foods available that are both very inexpensive and very healthy. By making some easy adjustments and using cheaper or ingredients that you may not be used to, you can still make many of your delicious but less inexpensive meals. Try increasing your use of eggs, lentils, beans, seeds, frozen fruits and vegetables, cheaper cuts of meat and whole grains. These all taste great, are cheap (especially in bulk) and are packed with nutrition.
19. Shop around – Buy Bulk from Cheap, Online Retailers!
There are several online retailers that offer a range of healthy foods for much cheaper prices. By registering, you get access to daily discounts and deals. What’s more, the products are then delivered straight to your door (look out for free postage/ delivery) Buying as much as you can from them can save you money in the long run.
What I want you to take home is ….
You don’t have to break the bank to “eat well” for less. In fact, there are many ways to eat healthy, even on the tightest budget. These include planning your meals, cooking at home, and making smart choices at the supermarket. Also, keep in mind that junk food costs you twice and that bad health comes with high medical costs (NHS), drugs (prescriptions) and even reduced working capacity. Even if eating healthy was more expensive (which it doesn’t have to be), then it would still be worth it down the line – none of us are getting any younger.
The bottom line is – You really can’t put a price on good health.
Don’t you agree?
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