You can eat healthy food and stick to a budget.
Eating right and sticking to your budget starts with a little extra planning before you go to the grocery store. Taking a little extra time to plan will go a long way in keeping your budget and health on track. Try these ideas to help you when you head to the store next:
- Cook at home more and eat out less. A lot of great food can be made at home for less money. It will taste even better because you use healthier ingredients and less processed options that don’t make you feel good.
- Plan what you are going to eat. Choosing the meals and snacks you want before going to the store will save you time and money. Look for new, fun and healthy recipes. Then, make a list of everything you need.
- Decide how much to make or buy. Making a large batch can save you a lot of time. Extra portions can be used for lunch or dinner during the week.
- Decide where to get your groceries. Look online or check your local newspaper for sales and coupons, especially if something you need is a little more expensive. When you go to the store, look at the prices of different brands. Also, look at the different sizes of the same brand to see which has a lower unit price. The unit price is usually on the shelf right below the product.
- Shop for foods that are in season. Fresh fruits and vegetables in season can be easier to get and cost you less. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are also good options. They might be less expensive at certain times of the year. Look for fruit that is canned in 100% juice or water. Find vegetables labeled “low in sodium” or “no salt added.”
- Make your own healthy snacks. It’s easy to pick up pre-made snacks. But they can cost more. However, you can still have a delicious snack by making your own! Buy large tubs of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese. Then, sort them into smaller containers. Use unsalted nuts, dried fruit, whole-grain pretzels or cereal for trail mix.
- Drink a lot of water. Drinking water instead of sweet drinks can save you a lot of money. It can also limit extra calories from added sugars.
Life can get busy sometimes. Trying to plan your meals takes time. If time is limited, don’t stress. There are ways to balance a busy life and eating healthy food:
- Keep a well-stocked pantry. Have shelf-stable items on hand when a quick meal is needed. Whole grains, canned vegetables, pouches or cans of fish and chicken make for a healthy but quick meal.
- Don’t forget to stock your freezer. Frozen vegetables, fruit, meat, chicken or seafood are healthy go-to options in a pinch.
- Don’t stress! You do not need to be a professional chef to whip up something that tastes and feels good. You can cook something healthy without a recipe. For example, try a black bean and vegetable burrito for dinner. Make some scrambled eggs with cheese, salsa and whole-grain toast for breakfast. Bake some fish with rice and veggies for lunch. Mix and match and have some fun with some new recipes.
- Lean on leftovers. If you have some extra dinner from the night before, pack it for lunch. Have breakfast for dinner with some of your morning leftovers.
Nothing is perfect. Sometimes, you can’t get home in time to make dinner. Or, your schedule stopped you from going to the store. Sometimes, grabbing something quickly is your only option, and that’s okay! You can do that and still be healthy. Here are a few ideas to help you when you only have the time to stop for something on-the-go:
- Think ahead and plan where you will eat. Look at the menu before you get there to know what will work for you.
- Order the regular or even child-size portion. Extra large servings are probably going to be too much food. If you are not that hungry, try an appetizer instead of a full meal.
- If the portion is too much, eat half the meal while out. Then, save the rest for dinner or a meal the next day.
Eating healthy takes time and effort. Don’t get frustrated if you get off track. Mistakes happen! Get back on track as quickly as you can. Your budget and health will thank you for it!