Many people have the misconception that you have to be rich to eat healthy. The truth is you may need to prepare a bit more, but you can still eat whole, nutritious foods when you’re on a tight budget. All it takes is a bit of knowledge and a solid plan.
Stop Throwing Away Your Sales Ads
Sales ads often have great deals on produce, meats, and other healthy items. If you don’t get sales ads, seek them out yourself. Most major grocery stores have online versions of their sales papers, and many of them even have mobile apps. However, think about where you can realistically shop. Sales don’t help if the store is on the other side of the city. You could end up spending more in gas than you would save at the store.
Create Meal Plans
Whether you go shopping once a month, twice per month, or every week, create your meal plans for the time between. There are a variety of ways to do this. Some people use online tools to create calendars and create elementary school-like menu pages. Others prefer to write everything down in a notebook or binder. Find what works for you.
When planning meals, start by using the items you intend to buy based on the sales you find. From there, you can fill in the blanks. Factor in breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every night of the week. Without doing so, you’re likely to find yourself in line at the drive-thru more often than you’d like. Snacks are important, too. Without them, you’ll find yourself grazing or shopping for convenience items at the local gas station.
Don’t Shop While You’re Hungry
If you go to the grocery store when you haven’t eaten in hours, you’ll find yourself less likely to stick to your list because everything will look good. The best time to shop is directly after you’ve eaten a satisfying, healthy meal, so plan to go after breakfast or lunch on the weekend or after dinner on a weeknight.
Prepare Meals and Snacks in Advance
Ask any expert and they are likely to tell you the key to success in healthy eating is meal prep. Spend one afternoon per week doing just that. Cook what you can in advance and freeze it for later. If you plan to do crockpot meals, mix the ingredients into a giant freezer bag so you don’t have to do anything but dump it in the pot when the time comes. Cook, separate, and freeze the foods you want to take to lunch and cook easy breakfast items that you can grab on your way out the door each morning.
Don’t forget to prep your snacks. You can purchase a cheap basket or bin at any dollar store to hold snack packets in the pantry and refrigerator. If you’re counting calories, fat, or carbs, use a marker to label each snack so you can easily track it when the time comes.
Eat Your Leftovers
How much leftover food do you throw out? Instead of making too much and never using it again, plan to use it for the next day’s lunch, breakfast, or even dinner. Some leftovers freeze well, giving you the option of using them later in the week or month and saving you money in the long run.
Purchase the Tools You’ll Need
By spending money on a few investments now, you’ll make meal planning and prep easier to do in the future and save money over the long term. If you have the space, purchase a chest-style freezer. This way, you can stock up on great sales on meat when you come across them. Plenty of airtight storage containers and freezer-friendly plastic bags are also important to prevent spoilage of items you’re freezing or saving for the next day.
Skip the Trendy Stores
Get out of the headspace that makes you think you can only eat healthy if you buy your food from those overly trendy, overly expensive grocery stores we all know exist. Local chain stores, small markets, farmers markets, and even dollar stores all offer healthy options at much more affordable prices. In places like Walmart and Target, you can find hamptoncreek products such as mayonnaise and even healthy cookie dough options at very affordable prices.
By knowing what you’re buying before you even enter the store, searching for healthy products in local stores, and preparing your meals in advance, you will save money, save calories, and likely feel healthier and productive. It may take some trial and error to find just the right routine for your needs, but once you do, you’ll wonder how you ever went without it.