Maintaining a balanced diet is an important step in living a healthy lifestyle. Incorporating the right amounts of vitamins from fruits and veggies, healthy fats, lasting carbohydrates and protein to fill you up can help you feel great and be at your best.
Ensuring you get your fill of all the food groups may seem like it comes with a hefty price tag. But with the proper planning and discipline, it can be easy to feed your family the nutritious meals they need while still keeping a tight rein on your budget. You don’t need to choose between eating well and sticking to your grocery budget. There are ways you can excel in both.
Tips for Eating Well on a Budget
Before you head out to the grocery store, here are some quick tips to keep in mind as you eat and shop right:
Avoid Food Waste
Whether shopping for a family of five or just for yourself, be mindful of the quantities you purchase at a time to minimize food waste. Having to toss out rotten vegetables and healthy proteins is not only wasteful, but it also hurts your overall grocery budget.
Don’t Be Fooled by “Organic”
Eating well doesn’t mean you need to buy everything as organic. This category of food is often much more expensive than the regular varieties, sometimes with little significant difference. While purchasing some ingredients as organic may come with some health benefits, often, the added cost may not be worth it.
Buy in Bulk
Oftentimes, ingredients you go through quickly can be cheaper per item when you buy them in bulk rather than frequent individual trips.
Shop at Discount Grocery Shops
Not all grocery items are at the same price. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get your groceries at discounted stores like Aldi. You can get the same great produce and ingredients at a much better price.
Buy What’s In Season
Eating strawberries and green beans all year long would be great. But buying fresh produce when it’s in season can help you save money and ensure the produce you get is at its freshest. When you really need those fruits that aren’t in season, try buying them in the frozen version to help you save a little more money.
Your Shopping List
As you get ready to head out to the grocery store, here are just a few great ingredients you can add to your list to eat well and keep your budget:
Peppers – get a variety pack of bell peppers for cheap
Carrots – get a pound of carrots for less than $1 for a great source of beta-carotene.
Tomatoes – buy them canned for a great topping and add-in with pastas and and other sautés.
Bagged spinach – fresh and bright green, use spinach as the foundation for many flavor combinations
Sweet potatoes – these bright orange starches are easy to purchase by the pound and can be used in many dishes from breakfast to dinner
Celery – grab a bunch for about $2 for a crunchy snack
Bananas – get a bunch of bananas for a great price – a great snack for after school or a breakfast on the go.
Apples – especially when they’re in season, get a large bag for a great price
Watermelon – celebrate the summer season with this fruit that gets you a lot of fruit for your money
Oranges – eat slices plain or mix them in your recipes for a splash of citrus
Whole wheat pasta – find a box of your favorite kind of pasta shape for less than $1.
Oats – Buy a large container of oats to use in creating your own breakfast of granola bars or oatmeal.
Brown rice – a bag or box of brown rice is pretty cheap, even when you buy the instant version.
Sliced bread – use whole wheat bread for sandwiches for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Tortillas – Get a package of flour or corn tortillas for less than $2 that you can use for a variety of dishes.
Eggs – get a dozen of these protein-packed food for less than $2.
Beans – dried or cans, this great source of protein is cheap and fills you up.
Peanut butter – get a large jar for less than $2 to use in a variety of healthy snacks.
Yogurt – if you go through it quickly, buy it in bulk rather than individual containers to save even more.
Canned tuna – this high-protein canned fish is cheap and makes the perfect lunch
Chicken breasts – get the family pack of chicken and freeze what you don’t use right away to save on a great source of protein.
An important step in eating well is planning out your meals. Knowing what you’re planning on making and when can help you cut down on food waste and make sure you purchase only those ingredients you’ll actually need.
As you set your meal plan, here are some great recipe ideas to incorporate into your healthy living lifestyle:
- Make refrigerated oats by combining milk and oats and let them sit overnight, or cook them up for a warm way to start the day. Having pre-made oatmeal packages are easy to make in bulk to save even more.
- Scramble up some eggs or make them sunny-side up and add with your favorite toppings like salsa or cheese.
- Top some toast with protein-rich peanut butter and bananas for a quick and easy bite as you head out the door.
- Stir in some fruit that’s in season into your greek or nonfat yogurt for an added flavor boost for cheap.
- Combine a variety of canned beans, vegetables, a broth and tomatoes to make your own healthy and tasty soup.
- Top some toasted bread with a tuna salad mixture of canned tuna, mayonnaise, green onions and any other seasoning you love.
- Grilled cheese and tomato soup can also be a cheap combination perfect for those cold or rainy days.
- Take yourself back to your childhood days and create your own peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with wheat bread.
- Combine cooked pasta with a variety of in-season produce in a customizable pasta salad perfect to take for lunch.
- Slice up some bananas and top with peanut butter for a great after school snack.
- Dip sliced cucumbers in homemade hummus for a light snack that’s good for you.
- Spread peanut butter on celery sticks and top with raisins for ants on a log snack
- Make your own granola bars by combining oats, peanut butter and other fun additions to make a great anytime snack.
- Cook up some whole grain pasta and top with sauce for a busy weeknight dinner that keeps you and your wallet full.
- Add your bag of frozen veggies in with some cooked ground beef or turkey to make a quick and easy stir-fry. Include cooked brown rice to make it a complete dish.
- Add in some seasonings to black beans and cooked brown rice to make it a flavorful and filling dinner.
- Grill some marinated chicken breasts and add steamed frozen veggies for a balanced dinner.
- Top zucchini slices with marinara and cheese for a healthy alternative to pizza.
Keeping You and Your Wallet Full
Eating well doesn’t need to compromise your wallet. By using key ingredients into a plethora of menu items, you can be eating great for breakfast, lunch, dinner and some snacks. Live your healthy lifestyle by being intentional about what you eat and how you spend. With these tips and recipes, you can start creating your shopping list and get cooking today.