Let’s face it, you don’t have to be rich to eat well and healthy. You simply have to make smart choices. While tight budgets can force you to make poor choices sometimes with a little creativity and by relying on your abilities and intelligence you can come up with amazing meals you can be very proud of. Oh and one more thing, this year stop thinking about food and start thinking about nutrition instead!
To help you eat well on a budget I have put together the tips below to inspire you and guide you. I have done this times and times again in my own life. In fact, I am following all of these tips right now as I build my own business as a fitness, wellness and nutrition coach and after loosing my corporate job. Trust me, and above all, trust yourself, it works!
1. Cook on weekends
Life can get very busy while trying to fulfill a number of obligations, but eating healthy and staying healthy should be pretty high on your list. Not everyone has the time to prepare meals from scratch but let’s be real, cooking at home can definitely stretch your food dollars. Shop on friday night and cook a few of your work meals (if not all of them) on the weekend. If you make it fun and creative it will not feel like a chore. Restaurants and takeout while convenient, are NOT an economical way to eat NOR is it healthy.
2. Shop for fresh produce at Asian Markets
Scour your town or city for Asian markets, or ask your Asian friends and colleagues where they shop. You will find out not only how affordable they are, they also offer a very large variety of fresh veggies, fruits and ingredients that are either hard to find in your regular store or cost a fortune. I personally, drive 20 minutes away from my house to go to a Vietnamese store on the other side of town (Portland, OR) to shop for my veggies, herbs, fresh fruits, and frozen fish from New Zealand, Thailand or Vietnam. I typically spend $50-60 dollars but I walk out with 4-5 bags of groceries that last me for two weeks.
3. There are always items on sale
Who cares if you use coupons to get discounts on the food you buy. Why not shot for specials and on sale items? Every local grocery store has weekly specials, sign up to receive their coupons in the mail. Every week, peruse the flier for deals and the go shopping for the foods and produce you need.
4. Buy food from the bulk section
Don’t be brainwashed so easily by brand advertising. Take some green options and buy certain nutritious foods in bulk, especially those you eat a few times per week, for instance, rice, oats, cereals, nuts, flower, spices etc… Buying in bulk can save significant money and just so you realize the amount of savings, just run a price comparison next time you shop.
5. Visit your local farmer’s markets
Farmer’s markets, especially from April to October, are the perfect place for super fresh, in-season and cheaper produce. Over the years, I have gone always to the same 2-3 stands hence developing a great relationship with the farmers. The result? Better quality, better prices, and always something extra thrown into my back because of the return business and trust in them.
6. Healthy alternative and affordable protein
You don’t have to shop for cheap meat that normally is low in quality and not that good for you. While good meat, poultry and fish are great sources of complete proteins and are usually expensive, you do not have to deprive yourself completely. You can cut back and save some cash and explore alternative healthy protein such as eggs, yogurt,cottage cheese, beans, legumes, nuts, and whey protein.
7. Transform you leftovers into tasty breakfasts
It is always a good idea to have leftovers, but what I suggest you is, find way to create a new dish with them rather than just having the same food the next day. So for instance, lets say you made risotto with some italian sausage and mushrooms, the following morning beat two eggs with some fresh parsley, grated parmesan cheese and some cream and add it to a sauce pan with your leftover risotto. Enjoy a pretty incredible and tasty frittata for breakfast or lunch.
I hope you have found some motivation and inspirations. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Happy Cooking Everyone!