Tips for Healthy Eating on a Tight Budget

One of the reasons people are reluctant to adopt healthier eating habits is that they mistakenly believe that healthy eating would be too costly; however, with a little effort you can learn how to eat healthy even on the tighest of budgets. With a little planning, you can adapt your shopping plan so that you are purchasing foods that are both good for you and your wallet. The following are fifteen easy tips for healthy eating on a tight budget:

1. Most of us already know that fruits and vegetables play a central role in healthy eating habits. To save money on fruits and vegetables buy fresh ones when they are in season. For example, apples will be cheaper in the fall and citrus fruits are less costly in the winter.

2. Check out your local farmers markets and roadside fruit and vegetable stands. You may find it is well woth the extra stop.

3. Buy foods in as close to their natural state as possible. Processing foods adds extra preservatives and chemicals as well as costs.

4. Shop the perameters of your grocery store, where you will find the fresh produce, bread, meat, and dairy products. Avoid going up and down every single aisle (except maybe a trip to the freezer to pick up some frozen fruits or vegetables) where the pre-packaged and processed foods are lurking.

5. Take advantage of the sales at your local grocery stores and stock up whenever possible. Having a variety of healthy foods on hand makes healthy eating on a tight budget easier because you won’t be tempted to stop for an expensive and unhealthy fast food meal on the way home.

6. Speaking of fast food, avoid it as much as possible. It is expensive and while a lot of effort is being made to reform the industry, fast food is best avoided when you are trying to eat healty on a tight budget. Instead, make large quantities when you cook and freeze some for later use. When you need a fast meal, there will be a nutritious one available in your freezer.

7. Serve vegetarian dishes two or three nights a week to cut down on meat costs.

8. Beans, beans….. good for the budget, and provide lots of protein and fiber. Keeping a variety of beans in your pantry will make healthy eating on a tight budget easier.

9. Watch your portions. Contrary to popular belief, hamburgers are not supposed to be the size of hubcaps and steaks are not supposed to occupy three-fourths of your plate. A serving of meat should be about the size of a deck of cards. Consuming
large quantities of meat leaves less room for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, not to mention the strain meat prices can put on your budget. When you limit portion sizes it makes healthy eating on a tight budget easier to accomplish.

10. To help fill the gaping hole on your plate that appeared after you downsized that slab of meat, serve whole grains (such as brown rice or barley) or whole wheat pasta with your meal. Whole grains provide lots of nutrients and are inexpensive and filling.

11. Coupon queens (and kings, we know you’re out there) beware. Sure, you may be tempted with a 1.00 off coupon for a box of cereal, but if it’s loaded with sugar and preservatives, fuhgeddabbouddit. It’s much cheaper and healthier to buy whole grain oats and add a little honey and cinnamon or fruit. Clip coupons wisely so that you don’t sabotage healthy eating habits.

12. Try generic and store brands. Many of them are similar quality to more expensive brands and stores often run specials on them. For example, some stores offer a “mix and match ten items for ten dollars” where you can fill your cart with healthy items such as frozen vegetables and cheese at a huge discount. Take advantage and stock up.

13. Plan meals to include leftovers. Soups and stews can be very inexpensive and nutritious while providing a fabulous dumping ground for those leftover vegetables.

14. Avoid budget draining eating habits on the job. With a little planning, eating healthy on a tight budget can be simple for those of us who work outside the home. Make your own morning coffee (or better yet, switch to antioxidant rich green tea)and pour it in a travel mug instead of stopping on the way to the office for a $4 latte. Make a committment to bringing your own healthy snacks and lunch with you to avoid the high costs of nutritionally void vending machines and fast food places.

15. Take time to read food labels. Compare nutritional value for cost to get your money’s worth.

Healthy eating on a tight budget will be easier for you and your family if you implement even a few of these tips. Encourage your family to come up with their own ideas to save money while eating healthy foods. You will find that with a little planning, healthy eating on a tight budget can be an easier task than you think.

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