In this economy, saving money is a priority. Learn more about how to transform your diet without parting with your hard-earned cash.
We've all heard the experts say that eating healthy doesn't have to be expensive. But it's hard to argue with the facts: fast food will almost always cost less than its healthier alternative. With this in mind, how do you prepare a healthy meal for yourself and your family without breaking the bank?
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Tip #1: Buy in Bulk
It may seem counterintuitive to spend MORE money to save money, but buying healthy food staples in bulk is one of the best ways to save long term on your grocery bill. You can visit a warehouse store and purchase basic items that you will use every day like spices, grains, cereals, and fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables in large quantities at a fraction of the cost you would be paying at your neighborhood grocery store.
Tip #2: Put in Some Elbow Grease
When you are strolling through the healthy food aisles in the grocery store, it may be tempting to head straight for pre-packaged foods. Unfortunately, most processed foods come with a hefty price tag. Prepping and preparing food on your own can be an effective way to stretch your dollar. After all, it's not going to kill you to marinate a piece of chicken, chop up a head of lettuce, or peel your own carrots, right?
Tip #3: Spice up Your Life
Healthy does not have to equal bland. Flavorful spices and sauces can truly enhance a plain dish, and they won't break the bank. You can really get the most “bang for your buck” when you invest in spices and flavorings like curry powder, garlic powder, Chinese five spice, soy sauce, teriyaki, and all kinds of chili powders.
Tip #4: Cut Back on Portions
Let's revisit the fast-food comparison. Yes, a bucket of fried chicken probably costs less than the same amount of grilled chicken. But ask yourself this: Just how much-fried chicken should you be consuming? It's really all about portion control. Keep in mind that when you cut back your portions of protein, you can make expensive cuts of meat last longer. What you may discover is that by following a healthy diet with smaller, weight-conscious portions, you can spend more on healthier alternatives to fast food without going over your budget.
Tip #5: Buy in Season or Go Frozen
Fresh fruits and vegetables are always cheaper when they are in season. You can have fresh veggies and fruits daily without going over budget as long as you stick to seasonal varieties. Got a hankering for berries in winter? If you like to eat outside of the seasonal “box,” just head to the frozen food aisle. Frozen produce packs the same amount of nutrients as fresh produce and is available year-round at a fraction of the cost.
Tip #6: Keep an Open Mind
One of the quickest ways to fall off the diet wagon is to eat the same thing over and over again (yes, I'm referring to YOU, grilled chicken and steamed broccoli). You can experiment with healthy foods and also stay on budget by expanding your horizons. If you can't face the thought of munching on carrots for yet another day, see if you can find another fresh or frozen alternative (ever heard of jicama?). It never hurts to ask your grocer if they can recommend a budget-friendly, healthy alternative to some of your vegetable, grain, and protein diet staples.