Over the years I’ve often heard that it’s expensive to eat healthy. While there is some truth to that statement, it certainly can be done. In the following article, we’re going to share with you 10 tips that will help get you started! I believe with a little effort and honest evaluation of your spending habits you’ll likely find that eating healthy really isn’t that expensive once you fix up your unhealthy costs.
Stock Up On In Season Fruits
Fresh Fruit (and vegetables) can be considerably cheaper when they are in season as the grocery stores try and move out the surplus supply. This is the ideal time to stock up and buy your choices in bulk. Don’t worry you don’t have to eat them all up before they spoil. Instead you can freeze the excess and have them available for the offseason when the prices are up. Simply wash the fruit well, cut away any spoiled parts, dry it all off (do this well so as to avoid freezer burn), then freeze them in some ziplock style bags. One quick note on fruit. They are pretty much a sugary treat. The fact that they are a healthy treat does not mean you should indulge in excess. Fruit like other sweets can make you fat.
Peanut Butter A Bodybuilding Staple
Peanut Butter is an excellent and cheap healthy food source. It provides a big punch of healthy fat, as well as a fair serving of protein and carbohydrates. It doesn’t require refrigeration and is easily transported in the jar you buy it in, which makes it an easy packable snack for those in-between meal cravings. Just keep in mind that it is high in fat, which you need, but depending on your macros you do likely want to monitor intake. Also, avoid the sugar-heavy (albeit delicious) store brands. Instead if you must have a sweetened version do so yourself with honey.
Plan Meals and Make a Shopping List
Impulse buying adds a lot more to the end cost than a lot of people realize. A dollar here and a dollar there really do add up after a two-hour trip through the grocery store aisles. This budget drain is easily corrected by simply creating a shopping list ahead of time and sticking to it. Additionally, with a list, and by following a recipe you’ll likely suffer less food spoilage and waste as it will somewhat force you into meal planning and you’ll be buying specifically what you need for the menu you intend to create.
Cut Out Junk Food
It’s easy to overspend on your food budget by buying junk food. In this case, I’m talking chips, cookies, and other unhealthy foods. If you really do cut all of these out of your spending habit you’ll likely have a fair amount of money to add to your healthy budget which can instead be spent on nutritious foods If you have a family you may want to consider shopping alone to avoid the additional request of ‘can we get this’, or at a minimum explain ahead of time that we are not veering off the shopping list.
Cut Out The Soda
Soft drinks are one more area you can save money on for your health-conscious budget. Instead, opt for water which is considerably cheaper and healthier. If you’re like me and just don’t like water (I know, terrible thing for a fitness advocate to utter aloud) then consider purchasing a flavor aid such as Crystal Light. While not as ideal as water I still consider it a healthy alternative and if it gets you to properly hydrate it is a win-win. One thing to be conscious of when drinking something with an artificial sweetener is that studies have shown artificial sweeteners tend to increase hunger response. So though your saving calories with them, they could potentially be adding to your snack cravings. Another savings can be had by mixing a large quantity compared to individual-sized batches of the flavor aid. Most of them offer a considerably cheaper option for the bigger mixes (gallon vs. 16 oz packets).
Buy Larger Packs Of Meat
This is pretty straightforward. Buy larger packs of meat at a discounted value then simply split into meal-size portions and freeze them. A vacuum sealer may be worth considering for purchase as they come in handy for a number of things such as this and sealing leftovers. Another alternative to freezing if it works with your meal plan is to prep them (cook) all at once then put them away to eat throughout the week.
Add Beans To Your Diet
Beans are an excellent cheap and healthy food source. They serve as a good carbohydrate and plant based protein to add to your diet. One of the great things about beans is there is such a variety of them, and many different ways to prepare them. You can place them in your menu throughout the week with each serving tasting different and appropriate for the respective meal. Opting for dry beans as compared to the canned versions will save you a considerable amount of money as well.
Eat More Rice
It’s trendy to hate carbohydrates these days, but they are a critical part of a healthy well-rounded diet. Good old-fashioned white rice is one of the best sources for a carbohydrate-rich food. Of course you can certainly venture out beyond simple white rice as well. Rice in general is a very affordable and filling nutritious food source to add.
Pack in the Oats
Get away from the boxed sugar-packed cereal for breakfast and instead opt for Old Fashioned Oats. They are cheap and full of valuable nutrients giving you a good carb punch, a fair amount of protein, and the needed fiber for your diet. Buy the old-fashioned steel rolled kind not the single microwavable packets. The single are packed with sugar and much less cost effective.
Take Up Fishing As A Hobby
While this certainly isn’t for everyone, but it can certainly save you a great deal on your grocery bill. If you have the time and desire you can save a great deal of money by catching your own fish and serving them. Fish are a great source of protein and healthy Omega fats that should be incorporated into a healthy diet (regardless of whether you catch or buy them). The same goes with hunting. You can obviously save yourself a fair amount by bagging your own meat in the form of a deer.
This list of ten tips is just that. A very small list of tips that can help you save money and realize that eating healthy is actually very affordable. There are numerous other ways to shave down the cost and still eat healthy as we’ve only touched on a few. If you’ve been putting off on committing to a healthy diet due to budget concerns hopefully this article has helped you to see it can be done and started you in the right direction of thought on the matter. One of the biggest things I notice that I do which makes healthy eating cost inflate is try and get fancy. For most of us healthy eating is just not as tasty as what we’re used to. Due to this when we start to try and plan a healthy menu we get wrapped up in incorporating these crazy dishes that we find across the internet and cookbooks. As a result, the budget will quickly climb. Keeping your food simple (not to mean unflavored or unseasoned) will help drastically with the budget.
Do you shop healthy and have some tips you can share with the rest of us? Is there a challenge on this topic you can’t seem to overcome? Please share your tips and questions in the comments below!
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Modern Warrior Project Co-Founder
As a 20-year Army Special Operations veteran with numerous deployments and extensive S.E.R.E. and Personnel Recovery expertise, he is a respected leader and trainer with extensive experience in planning and executing high risk, low visibility evolutions in volatile and austere areas across the globe. He is married to Jennifer Blevins of Beaumont, Texas and is the father of five.