When there is a tight budget, meal planning and grocery shopping turns into a tricky mess, especially if you are all about the pro-healthy lifestyle! As complicated as it is, healthier food choices never come in cheap, as compared to the other processed junk we consume in the name of food. The reason for this heavy price tag lies in these two words: quality and nutrition!
So how can one go about eating the best healthy food without breaking the bank?
The following tips ensure that you get the best of healthy meals served, all while you save some cash on the side too:
Re-purposing your way
Let’s start with what you have. Therefore, in case of healthy meal planning on a budget, you need to keep all those frozen fruits, vegetables, proteins, meat and canned goods in sight. This secret stash of frozen goods won’t demand much from you- in fact, most of them can be cooked, re-purposed and handled well in mini microwaves. And if it’s the frozen part that tends to make you insecure, then let’s just add in this one fact here – the nutritional value of something that’s in your freezer is always better than those processed items sitting in the grocery stores.
Planning those Meals and Snacks
To make things simple, fresh and more flavor-some, take out some time to think of a menu for yourself. Be sure to jot down the possible snacks too. This way you will know what to exactly buy for the week and save yourself that hard-earned cash. Also, while you are planning, be sure to give in-season produces a spot too because seasonal vegetables and fruits are always cheaper, giving you the perfect opportunity to stock up and devour them.
Farmer’s market for the better goods
Contrary to the popular belief, not all grocery stores stock up on fresh food, as they advertise. In fact, if you seek for raw, natural quality products, don’t hesitate to go to your local farmer’s market. These markets are known for their fresh goods and reduced prices. You won’t just get to look at different quality of produces but the more you go there, the more you will be able to differentiate between new and old stock.
If you want fresher goods, be sure to give them a visit in the morning- that’s when the new stock comes in. And if you wait until the last day, you might be able to get yourself a good deal in lesser price, for at that time, those farmer’s slash their prices to sell off maximum items. Win-Win for both.
Handling Proteins the right way
Most people believe healthy eating and eating on a budget both suggest cutting out meat and proteins. However, the reality is quite different from this perspective. If you are on a budget and happen to be a fan of red-meat, then look for less expensive cuts of meat, such as the chicken thighs instead of breasts. The rougher cuts of meat tend to come in cheaper and if it cooked properly, they can really change the whole flavor game. The same way, other options such as lamb neck fillets, pork belly and cheeks, shin of beef etc all come under the cheaper cut category. Remember, in case of meat, all that matters really is how you cook it, not the portion of meat itself.
A Bit of Processed is OKAY
Now going healthy doesn’t mean running in the opposite direction whenever the word “processed” comes up- it means putting your health first and making the right choice. But here’s the catch- even if you are really spending a lot of time reading the ingredients in the aisle, there is some sort of processed chemicals involved in everything that you eat. Therefore, use this for your advantage, not disadvantage.
There are some food items that are cheaper in their less processed form as compared to their full natural, raw form. These less processed forms also come with larger serving sizes. For instances, canned beans are actually cheaper than the re-fried ones. So, while you are being health conscious, be sure to do your math too.
Recipes that save the day…and money
Who said you have to get a hundred ingredients fixed in your dinner? There are plenty of recipes that involves ingredients under $5 dollars and are equally filling and lip-smacking. Basic staples, like chick peas, potatoes, onions, carrots, rice and wheat can save your day in no time. The combination of these in simple dishes like chickpea curry with rice, sweet potatoes black bean tacos etc can keep your menu exciting and your palate satisfied. Also, with these basic, ordinary ingredients, all you really need is a creative mind, google and some dedication for delicious meals.
Bulk buying saves a lot of money. Though you can’t buy everything on your list in bulk, but certain items such as brown rice, barley, lentils, beans if bought in bulk, will actually save you a lot of money. With proper storage, these bulk stocks can last a long time- we are talking months here. A safe option for this bulk-buying habit are staple food items, as they are generally inexpensive and are used in variety of healthy dishes.
Growing Your Own Food
Nothing is 100% pure and natural- PERIOD. If you really want to save yourself the hassle of searching the purest items in the market, or you want to save some bucks on staple likes potatoes, carrots, onions and tomatoes, then you can plant it out. Seeds for most plants, are really easy and cheap to buy. With some effort, time and dedication, you can grow your own crops in your own home. Plus, home grown produce always tastes better than the store-brought varieties and you can have the peace of eating something 100% natural.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean buying all the things that are advertised- it mostly involves opting for better and more natural choices. Doing that on a budget is not just a myth, but is highly attainable, therefore don’t give up on the thought and put these tips to test!