As much as I'd love to spend hours on end at Whole Foods--let's face it, that's not very practical for anyone's budget. I'm sharing with you some of my favorite ideas on how to eat healthy (or healthier) on a limited budget.
- Try to find a local farmer's market that sells fresh and cheap produce. Buying all organic from your nearby supermarket may be convenient, but it usually isn't budget-friendly. I have come home with massive hauls from the farmer's market and spend a fraction of what I would have at ShopRite or Stop and Shop.
- If at all possible, try growing your own garden! It's a fun way to really see how nature gives back to people when you give plants the love they need. A little soil, sunshine, water and fresh air can produce a bountiful harvest. Then you won't even need to go to the farmer's market!
- Mix your fresh produce with pantry staples that are usually inexpensive. Putting together a dinner that has brown rice and stir-fry vegetables with any protein (think: chicken, shrimp, steak) can be delicious and easy on your budget.
- Try making things from scratch instead of picking pre-processed items at the grocery store. I'm not saying you have to make your own pasta or homemade bread if this doesn't fit in to your schedule, choose your battles wisely. However, freshly baked homemade bread is SO much better than store bought bread. It makes the house smell like a bakery, too! Things like homemade basil pesto and homemade frozen yogurt are a few things that might make you forget you ever loved expensive Italian restaurants or quaint little frozen yogurt shops.
- If you're a coffee addict like I am: ditch the expensive coffee habit. I know I'm not the only one who can't resist a nonfat caramel macchiatto (nearly) every time I walk into a Starbucks. If you have a Keurig, buy a box of 12 Starbucks K-cups for the price of two caramel macchiattos. With all that extra money in your budget you'll certainly have some to spare for a fancy flavored coffee creamer. 12 tasty cups of coffee for the price of 2 coffeehouse espresso drinks? It sounds like simple math to me.
- Attempt a 1 week challenge of not going out for food, getting takeout, or eating restaurant food. I did this recently and found that the hardest part (for me, at least) was having food prepared in advance so that I did not fall for the temptation of Chipotle's chicken burrito bowl. Meal prepping is a total lifesaver. By the end of the week I felt less bloated, and I probably saved a few dollars here and there by spending it on groceries instead of on chicken wings and french fries. Extra money to throw around in the budget elsewhere is always a positive thing!
- To really make all your healthy eating and money-saving benefit your budget, it's best to actually eat the things you buy and not let them go to waste. Yes, we are all busy people. However, by making time every week to plan on what you'll be making on which days will help you in the long run. If you know you won't be able to finish that 4.5 pound family pack of boneless chicken breasts because you're only feeding two people (am I the only person who buys the bulk size?), make sure to trim the fat and portion out pieces for different meals and freeze what you know you can't use before it'll spoil! The same goes for fruits and veggies. If you know you can't finish that pint of strawberries, hull the tops off and slice them up to be frozen for smoothies. Or just dip them in chocolate! Was there a tip I missed? What's your favorite budget-friendly way to eat healthier foods?