Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Eating Healthy On a Budget

 Have you ever thought that eating healthy is too expensive, and it’s more affordable to just eat fast food and other unhealthy convenience foods? It doesn't have to be that way. It’s true that healthy food tends to be more expensive than junk food, but it also goes further than junk food. It takes a little extra planning and preparation. 

Food that seems cheap, like fast food, actually adds up over time and takes a toll on your health. By adding a little more food preparation and planning to your day, you will save money on fast food that you end up buying out of convenience. 

Try to think of the days when fast food wasn't around every corner, and pretend like it’s not there.

1.       Start with your staples. Buy whole grain brown rice, 100% whole grain bread, oatmeal, lentils, beans, and whole grain pastas. If it is possible, buy these foods in bulk because they take much longer to spoil than produce. Buy dried beans and lentils, you get more for your money.

2.       Plan your meals a head of time. Cook a meal in a large quantity, say two or three servings, and save the left overs. This saves a ton of money on meals. Try cooking a stir fry of chicken, rice and vegetables on Sunday, so you have dinner for Monday and Tuesday.

3.       Eat more vegetarian meals. Not only will you save money, but will lower your intake of cholesterol and saturated fat. Eat beans, vegetables, and your choice of whole grain.

4.       Drink water. Filtered tap water does not raise your grocery bill like sodas and sugary juices do. If water is a little too plain, try making your own ice tea or lemon water.

5.       Eat eggs. These are one of the least expensive foods, but they are packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals.

6.       Make your own snacks. If you make your own granola bars, popcorn, or celery and peanut butter, you will find that a little bit of money goes a long way.

7.       Eat fresh produce that is in season, this usually means it is less expensive.

8.       If you cannot always afford fresh produce, frozen produce is the next best thing, and it is considerably less expensive.

9.       Use your freezer. Freeze bread, left overs, meats, and other things so you will not have to deal with food spoilage and wasting money. You can eat it whenever you are ready.

10.   Make small changes. Notice that instead of getting that four-dollar bag of cookies, you can use that money to buy a bag of apples or something healthy.

You will start to notice that junk food is expensive when you could be spending the money on real food. The least expensive produce tends to be carrots, celery, and spinach which are all great for snacking and lunch.

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