Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. There are many affordable ways to eat healthy without going over your grocery budget for the week. On the other hand, eating frugally does not mean choosing the cheapest food and eating it to your heart’s content either. At least in my definition, eating healthily and frugally is not mutually exclusive. It goes hand in hand, like peanut better and jelly. Here are some tips to start you off with your money-conscious, clean eating lifestyle!
How To Eat Healthy
- Eat fresh produce – Prepare to eat A LOT of fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables! “They represent the ‘outskirt’ area of a grocery mart, along with fresh meat and seafood, but they are also the freshest, least processed ones you can find! You can go check any grocery markets if you don’t believe me!” says Samantha Rodriguez, who works at Whole Foods in Kirby, Houston.
- Look for quality food – As I mentioned above, always pick quality over quantity. Less is more sometimes and it applies to eating healthy too. Choose low-sodium, less sugar, less fat, wholesome organic and whole grain carbohydrates such as whole grain bread, brown rice, quinoa and soba noodles. Do look for less processed stuff!
How To Eat Frugally
- Plan your groceries accordingly – You have to know what your eating habits are: do you eat 3 meals a day with snacks in between or do you just eat two heavy meals? If so, leave some money to buy healthy snacks to munch on in between meals. This might be a little bit too meticulous for you, but before grocery shopping, think about how your appetite looks like. How long does your appetite for a food last? How often do you get tired of eating the same food over and over throughout the week? If you’re like me and you get boring after having the same thing for 3 or 4 meals, then that means cook less to not waste any food.
- Know your budget – You should decide on a grocery budget that seems right for you. If you have a stable job, go for $50-60, but if you don’t $35-45 for a week might be enough for you to eat well. In my personal experience, I go grocery shopping two times a week ($25 for the first time and $10 or $15 for the second time) just to have fresher food and vegetables in my arsenal.
- Make a list of groceries – Always make a grocery list on a piece of paper, or better yet, on your phone, of what you want to buy for the week. You have to keep in mind that you will be tempted to make impulsive buys. Sometimes, it happens and it’s okay because we’re humans. But for most of the times, stick to what is on your list!
- Choose quality over quantity – Like many other things we see in the world, always choose quality over quantity. You should not buy a large amount of anything; instead, buy in moderation. Pick the produce or ingredients that are higher quality than others or things that have less sodium, less fat, less sugar and saturated fat, etc. You don’t have to necessarily avoid things that say “certified organic,” or “locally produced.” Do remember that eating frugally does not mean buying the cheapest ones on the shelf.
- Look up recipes online – Feel free to check out recipes online that encourage healthy and clean cooking. You will not only get new ideas for recipes but you will also become more efficient in grocery shopping, hence saving money. That way, you know exactly what ingredients you need to buy, and it will prevent blind or impulsive buying. It’s good to set a goal in small things as well!
- Reuse ingredients – This is a good way to effectively save money for groceries. Fool-proof and easy. The rule of thumb is if you bought something that has an approaching expiration date, let’s say in 2 weeks, use it again on the second week! Try to incorporate them in one of your dishes again (may it be in snacking, breakfast or dinner) in the second week because you probably won’t finish them on the first week. Foods such as light sour cream, fat-free greek yogurt, sauces and marinades, etc are the common examples and should be used up before buying a whole batch of new stuff. In addition, freeze meat, fruits and vegetables to prolong their freshness and use them for later in the week.