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Eating healthy is not only difficult because it takes discipline. Healthy food can get expensive. So, how do we manage to eat well on a budget? Here are a few tips I’ve incorporated into my life that have been super helpful:
- Eat less meat and more veggies. Eating fresh vegetables doesn’t cut into your budget quite as much when you cut down on your meat intake. I’m not saying cut out meat altogether, but but lean cuts on sale and cut your meat portions in half (which actually could be closer to the recommended portion size anyway). You can also grow vegetables to cut the cost even further.
- Don’t buy junk food – ever! Junk food might be cheaper, so you think, “Hey, the rest of the family isn’t on a diet, right?” But you end up eating that junk, even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t. And if you are thinking of the way you are eating as a “diet”, you’ve got a problem anyway. I think when we really decide to change our lives by eating healthier foods, we have to make the new food choices simply the way we eat. And honestly, eating healthier is better for your whole family, not just you or your spouse. Kids will eat healthy food if they don’t have any other options, and once they get used to it, they will prefer it. Then, you’ve not only changed your habits, but you’ve helped your kids create better habits.
- Keep it simple. Cooking magazines are awesome. Those 20 ingredient recipes that look so pretty and taste so great…and take two hours out of your day…and are probably not the healthiest choice anyway….those recipes are fine for special occasions, but for day in and day out- keep it simple. Salads, lean deli sandwiches, healthy breads, simple vegetable sautes, fruit: these are simple choices you can eat while on a budget that don’t mess with your busy schedule.
- Know where to get things cheap. Look at sale ads and coupons. Sign up for emails from your local grocery stores. Know where you can get things on sale. I literally made a list of my most used grocery items and took it to three different stores to find out where I could get each item at a lower cost. It took a few hours on that first day, but now I know exactly where to go. I also know things like, almost always, my local Gerbes grocery has a fruit on sale for 99 cents/pound.
- Get a Sam’s membership (or something similar). Not everything is cheaper at Sam’s, but certain things are…especially the healthy stuff. Milk, Healthy Life Bread, healthy granola bars, low sugar yogurt, edamame, lean meats, and some fruits are just a few things that I’ve found to always be cheaper there. Also, non-grocery items can be cheaper there as well: pull-ups and trash bags, for instance.
- Smaller portions. Those recommendations on the box are there for a reason, and if you follow them, you’ll not only be learning to eat an appropriate amount, you’ll also save some money. Your food will last longer and you will feel better. You might have to use measuring cups for a while until you get the hang of the amount you should be eating, but it’s worth it.
What do you do to keep from going over budget on your healthy foods?