A large part of your health and well-being lies in what you eat. It may seem that cheap, convenient meals fit your budget, but treating illnesses and health conditions caused by poor nutrition may cost you more in the long run. Learning how to do healthy grocery shopping on a budget can help you achieve your physical goals while being easy on the wallet.
It is far more convenient and cost-effective to eat healthy food than to foot expensive medical bills to treat illnesses caused by poor nutrition.
While healthy food options are considered expensive, this isn’t always the case. Even on a tight budget, you can still shop for healthy foods by following our tips and tricks.
Meal Plan and Shop with a List
How often have you gone grocery shopping without a list and strolled through the isles tossing things you probably don’t need into your cart? Without a plan, you’re likely to purchase unnecessary items.
Also, if you’re buying a lot of perishables that you don’t have a plan for and don’t use, there is a good chance it will end up in the trash, which is as good as throwing money away.
It may seem time-consuming and challenging to plan your meals a week in advance, but as you get used to it, it becomes easier.
Meal planning for at least a week before grocery shopping can help reduce waste and shop for healthy foods on a budget.
It also makes your life easier during the week since you know what to eat in advance.
When it comes to compiling a meal plan and grocery list, it helps to be as detailed as possible.
This means listing what you’re going to eat for all your meals and snacks to avoid popping into the shops mid-week to buy things you forgot.
Having a meal plan does not mean you must cook three meals daily. Instead, you can simply consider what your family likes to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and what snacks they enjoy between meals.
You can also add a meal replacement to substitute a snack when you’re on the go.
Batch Cook and Freeze Your Meals
We’ve all had those days when there is no time to cook, so we order a takeaway, eat out or grab a convenience meal. These can be pricey and unhealthy.
To make your life easier and ensure your family eats healthy, look for ways to stretch your meals by batch cooking and use leftovers so that you cut down on the amount of time you spend in the kitchen.
For example, it’s easy to cook a large batch of Bolognese sauce and freeze half of it so that you have a meal in the freezer for days that you don’t have time to cook. Or, roast a chicken for dinner and save the leftovers to make sandwiches for lunch the next day.
When you plan your meals, you can know the ingredients you need to cook meals in bulk and freeze them, saving you time and money.
Skip Processed and Convenience Foods
Many people like to stock up on processed foods as they typically have a longer shelf life or grab convenience foods like microwave dinners that require little to no preparation.
Most processed foods are high in sodium and preservatives. So, although these foods may have a shorter cook time, they often come at a price (to your pocket and health).
Avoid Sugary Drinks and Alcohol
Apart from being bad for your health, sugary drinks and alcohol can be pretty pricy.
It’s become common for families to reach for sugary drinks like soda at meal times, but these are essentially empty calories.
While it may be challenging to cut soda, sports drinks, and alcohol out of your diet, consider limiting these drinks to the weekend and opt for water during the week.
If you get bored of plain water or prefer a bit of flavor in your water, consider infusing your water with fruit, vegetables, and herbs.
Use any fresh produce you like and experiment with different flavor combinations. Preparing your water the night before is best to have sufficient time to infuse.
To flavour your water, all you have to do is slice or chop the fruits, vegetables, or herbs of your choice, place them in a pitcher, top them with water, and pop the pitcher into the fridge.
Popular combinations include:
- Mint and strawberry
- Orange and grapefruit slices
- Cucumber and lemon
- Basil and clementine
- Rosemary and ginger
Cut down on Meat
Meat is usually quite expensive, and red meat can be unhealthy if eaten in excess. As a result, consider limiting the red meat you eat to one or two servings a week.
A more plant-based diet is often healthier and more affordable than a meat-heavy diet. Hop on the Meatless Monday trend so that you have at least one meat-free day a week.
You can substitute red meat for other protein sources like chicken, turkey, and fish or plant-based proteins like tofu, chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa.
Another handy hack to stretch your meat-based meals is to bulk them with plant-based proteins.
For example, add beans or lentils to a ground beef dish or add them to your lamb stew. This allows you to enjoy the meaty flavor while using less meat.
Stock Up on Frozen Vegetables and Fruits
It may be nice to always have fresh produce, but it’s often not practical. Depending on the type of produce, it may spoil after just a few days.
Since meal planning aims to reduce waste and save time and money, it’s helpful to stock up on frozen vegetables and fruits.
Contrary to what some may believe, frozen vegetables and fruits are nutritious since, in most cases, they are frozen soon after they’ve been harvested, and freezing them allows them to retain most of their nutritional content.
When drawing up your meal plan, incorporate the fresh produce into the meals you prepare earlier in the week and keep the frozen veggies for later.
For example, if you shop on Saturday, utilize your fresh produce from Sunday to Wednesday or Thursday.
Keeping frozen vegetables and fruits in your freezer is a convenient way to add veggies and fruits to your meals when you’re almost out of fresh produce.
Use frozen veggies to make soups, stews, and stir-fries and fruits to make smoothies or add to oatmeal to increase the nutritional content of your breakfast or snacks.
Shop Seasonal and Local
Buying produce that’s in season and locally available is often cheaper than purchasing import-of-season of season groceries.
This is because food grown in your area or country is usually available in large quantities and may cost less.
If there are seasonal foods that your family enjoys, buy them in bulk and freeze or preserve them so that you have them all year round.
Even though food prices have increased in recent years, shopping for healthy, nutritious food on a budget is still possible.
The trick is planning and making clever swaps to reduce your grocery bill and minimize waste.
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Last Updated on 15th December 2022 by Emma