Despite what some people say, eating healthy doesn’t need to be expensive. However, it does require careful thought and consideration of food choices, and paying close attention to menus, shopping and cooking habits. But boiling down healthy eating on a budget mostly means focusing on two things: eating at home and eating less.
Americans love to eat out. We often see it as a reward for a hard day at work or we use it to help compensate for a busy schedule. Last year, Americans spent $10 billion (yes, with a “b”) on fast food. We also spent an individual average of five bucks a day when you combine expenditures on candy, soda and fast food. Not only that, but families in this country typically spend close to 50% of their food budget on dining out.
By cutting back on eating at restaurants, you can save lots of money without sacrificing nutrition. You can also save money by keeping a food diary. When you’re regularly looking at how and when you’re eating, you’ll tend to make better decisions about your meals. Here are four other helpful tips about how you can eat healthy on a budget:
Be intentional. Know exactly where your food dollars are going. Try your best not to waste any food whenever possible. And in addition to keeping track of your food budget, you should also keep track of your calories.
Reduce your meat intake. Meat tends to be expensive. You can reduce your intake by cutting down on the amount called for in recipes and replacing it with extra vegetables. It’s also a good idea to eat fewer meals with meat, and you can replace the lost protein with beans, soy or low-fat dairy alternatives. Keep in mind that one serving of dried black beans will usually cost about a quarter, while one serving of meat is typically more than a dollar.
Tenderize and flatten fillets or steaks. If you’re eating meat, you can stretch your dollar by tenderizing and flattening steaks. This makes them larger in size — and you can do this easily with a meat mallet, which you can find in most kitchen supply stores.
Buy large packages of food. Buying in bulk is a great way to save money, and you can save even more if you buy things on sale. Remember that most foods can be repackaged and frozen if necessary. And take a look at local coupons to find weekly meat specials and base your menus on these sales.
There are so many things you can do to save money while keeping a focus on nutrition. You might even consider going meatless for several meals a week, which can be a great step in the right direction. Just make sure you stick with a plan, and you’ll be good to go!
Looking for more ways to eat healthy on a budget? Be sure to check out part two of this article.