The current economic hardships is putting real constraints on the food choices we are making. Furthermore, the poor food choices we are making is one of the chief reasons for the obesity epidemic that is spiraling out of control, with two out of three Americans currently overweight and expected to rise to three out of four by 2020. Many people choose junk food or fast food because they think that the $5.25 Quarter Pounder Meal is their best option for cheap meals. What they don’t know is that there are ways to eat healthier on a budget and that these options are in most cases, much more inexpensive over the long run. Below are 10 tips to eat healthier on a budget.
1) Cook your own meals
There is no way around it. If you want to eat healthy, on a budget or not, you MUST cook your own food. Restaurant food or worse, fast food, load their food with salts, sugars, msg, fats, and the cheapest ingredients that will increase their net profits. Also, cooking your own food will drastically lower your food bills.
2) Pack your own lunch
Along the lines of cooking your own meals, you must cook and prepare your own lunch as well. Lunch is when most people eat that unhealthy Big Mac or Tangerine Chicken loaded with who knows what. If you’re too lazy to prepare your own lunch, just cook a little more for dinner, pack it, throw it in the fridge, and nuke it with the office microwave the next day.
3) Cut out the crap
Like most people, you probably have soda, fruit juice, and other junk in your fridge. Along with Cocoa Puffs, sugar snacks, and other packaged junk whose only nutritional value comes from the artificial color made from grape extract. All these packaged junk food is a great source of expensive, empty sugar calories and will kill your waistline and your wallet.
4) Buy in season
Fruits and vegetables are way much cheaper when they are in season versus when they’re out of season and shipped halfway around the world in expensive refridgerated containers. Don’t worry, every season offers lots of delicious options, just as nature intended it.
5) Buy in local markets
To buy in season, there is nothing better than to shop at your local farmer’s market. The stuff they sell at farmer’s markets are very nutritious, locally grown, and inexpensive. Many times, they will be organic and pesticide free as well. Also, everybody at these markets are friendly and health conscious so you can mingle with like minded folk.
6) Protein from less expensive sources
Animals these days are fed a chemically balanced diet of hormones and chemical-laden grass and grains. Consequently, they are unhealthy, unnaturally fat, and pass this onto the end consumer, you. Therefore, you should opt for organic meats whenever you can. However, organic is most times prohibitively expensive so you should eat less meat and substitute it with cheaper, healthy, protein rich sources such as tofu, beans, lentils, and legumes.
7) Grow your own food
This should be a no brainer. Growing your own fruits and vegetables will not only save you money, you can ensure that it is pesticide and chemical free. You will also be cooler and be the center of attention and envy from your neighbors.
8) Shop smart
Shopping smart should be a habit regardless of what kind of budget or eating habits you have. Generics are as good as the name brands that spend a lot more money not on the quality of the ingredients, but the quality of the marketing experts. Also, buying uncut, whole, and frozen is usually cheaper and just as nutritious. Lastly, check out the loyalty programs at your favorite grocery store. You can save 10~20% just for carrying around their little loyalty cards.
Coupons are not only for old ladies and penny pinchers, you really can save huge amounts of money using these. Check out your local paper or online coupon sites. You will be pleasantly surprised at the discounts you will run into.
10) Eat your own breakfast
That large coffee and bagel with cream cheese just cost you $4.59 at starbucks. If you make your own coffee and bagel with organic cheese, it costs less than a dollar. Not only is this a fraction of the cost, you can actually use organic and high quality ingredients and eat healthier on a budget.