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Eating Healthy on a Budget

Eating Healthy on a Budget | Solidarity Credit UnionEating healthy has so many advantages that often people don’t consider that switching to healthier options can negatively affect their bank accounts. The choices tend to be geared towards smaller businesses running grass roots operations that may cost more due to the high quality ingredients and smaller batches made. However, that isn’t the case for all healthy options and you won’t necessarily be getting the healthiest food just because you spent a lot of cash. 

Switching to health foods doesn’t have to break your bank, you can find ways to squeeze the most out of your pennies if you shop smart and plan ahead. 

Here’s our guide to eating healthy on a budget.

Meal Planning 

Planning ahead is probably the most essential aspect of keeping your grocery budget on task. Knowing what sales your grocery store is having, using their coupons, utilizing the stores app, and being a member of their club are all money savers.

Check your fridge, cabinets and pantry to make sure you aren’t buying duplicates or more than you need at once.

Decide what your meals will be for the week, breakfast, lunch and dinner and write out exactly what is needed for your week. At first, this will be time consuming but there are many apps and websites out there designed to help you with this very thing and before you know it, you’ll have your system down and it will be second nature to you. 

Pro Tip: Make sure you are switching up your meals every week, its easy to get sick of eating the same thing every day and that is a sure way to go off diet and off budget. Keep it varied and enjoy trying something new every week! 

App About It 

There are tons of apps out there built to help people manage everything from their budgets to calorie counting. There are even apps out there that will help you find healthy recipes, break them down into grocery lists, and add them onto your calendar so dinner is no stress, no hassle!

Some of our favorites are MealBoard, Eat This Much, Paprika, Yummly and FoodPlanner. 

Stick to the List

After you’ve made your list and checked it twice, it’s time to take action. When you get to the grocery store, it’s natural to want to just throw some extras in the cart. Don’t give in to temptation, it’s those little extra expenditures that really add up and make the difference in your bank account.

Make sure you have a snack with you when you go food shopping because there is nothing worse than being hungry in the grocery store! Everything looks delicious so your will power isn’t going to save you. Eat before you go, or have snacks on hand to keep yourself from buying things you wouldn’t otherwise. 

Learn to Cook 

If you spend a lot of money eating out, it’s healthier and cheaper to make your food at home. Yes, it takes a little extra time but learning to cook for yourself and/or your family is extremely rewarding in more ways than one. It’s a skill you can pass down to your kids and a great way to bring the family together.

There are dozens of sites dedicated solely to cooking for beginners that include recipes, lists, how to shop, coupon codes and more. You can do it, we believe in you! 

Pack Your Lunch 

Instead of planning on grabbing a bite from your local eatery every day, it will save you a ton of money to bring your lunch. Eating lunch out can add up to major bucks at the end of the month, especially if you are choosing places that serve healthy options because those options tend to be more expensive.

Scale down and set a goal for yourself to eat lunch out once a week and soon you’ll be so used to bringing your lunches that you won’t eat out at all.

If you follow the next step and cook extra portions to save for later then packing your lunch will be as easy as throwing it in your bag and off you go. 

Think Big 

When you are in the planning phase of deciding what you are going to eat for the week, an important part of that is remembering to buy for three or four times the amount what your recipe calls for. This way, you make one huge meal and use the leftovers for quick grab lunches. This saves you a lot of pennies, and a lot of time.

If you want to create a “store” of easy to grab lunches, make some space in your freezer, invest in some sturdy, freezer-friendly, no-leak containers then save a little of every dinner you make and pop it in the freezer. Before you know it, you’ll have a whole stock of lunches to choose from that you can take out of the freezer the night before and have ready for lunch the next day! 

Go Generic

Name brands are created to make you feel comfortable and like you know exactly what you’re getting. However, the generic can be just as good and reliable as the brand name product. This can take a little experimenting to find things that are worth the price of the brand or things you can squeeze extra pennies out of by going generic.

Read the ingredients lists, make sure you don’t see any big red flags and try more generic options, you’ll be surprised by the quality you can find. 

No Junk Allowed!

You aren’t supposed to be eating it anyways so don’t tempt yourself by having it around the house. Despite the fact that they offer very little nutrition and are packed with unhealthy preservatives, chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients, they are also very expensive for the amount of products you get. 

Pro Tip: Shop the perimeter of the store first. Most of the items that contain lots of additives, preservatives and chemicals are housed in the center aisles so get in the habit of working the outer edges of the stores for the healthiest and freshest foods. 

In Season is En Vogue 

Farmers markets are the best places to get affordable, fresh and in-season produce. If you don’t have one of those readily available it is still easy to get the freshest fruits and veg. Go to the produce section of your grocery store and look for the items they have the most of and it should be priced lower than the other available produce. Sales in the produce department usually coincide with whatever is freshest and most available.

If it’s the dead of winter and not a fresh looking strawberry to be seen, head to the freezer section and get your fruit and veg fix. There is no shame in frozen fruits and vegetables, they still taste great and will keep in your freezer for a long time. 

Gardening: Your New Favorite Hobby 

Even if the only space you have is a tiny shelf by a window, you can still grow something. All plants need is dirt, water, light, air and love. Edible plants are good for the air in your living space, they add softness and texture to your decor and they are absolutely delicious.
Herbs, tomatoes and lettuce are very easy indoor crops and there is nothing more satisfying, healthy or cost effective than eating food that you grew yourself. 

We hope you found some tips to help you get a good grip on eating healthy on a budget. No matter where your healthy food journey may take you, make sure you put the Free ATM Locater on your phone (Google Play | Apple App Store) to find the closest Free Solidarity Shared ATM for your cash needs or look for the Co-Op or Alliance One logo. 
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