Ways to Eat Healthy and Save Money
Eating healthy or healthier is a great goal, right? It’s not always easy, though, especially if you’re trying to do so and save money or just stretch your food dollars a little further. Don’t stress! With a little planning and preparation, it can be done. Here are some hints to help.
- Plan your meals ahead. Look at healthy recipe sites for ideas to incorporate the season’s fruits and vegetables into a balanced, delicious dinner and left-overs for lunch the next day.
- Stock up on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Watch for weekly specials to get seasonal deals.
Try these! They’re loaded with nutrients that provide energy, antioxidants, fiber and important vitamins: spinach, broccoli, carrots, brussel sprouts, kale, green beans, sweet potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries, apples, bananas, kiwi, strawberries, avocado, whole wheat bread, brown rice, black beans, and oats.
- Cook at home. Eating out adds up quickly (as do the extra calories). Plus, it can be much more satisfying to make something good, and so good for you, to share with others around your table.
- Cut up fresh fruit yourself. Containers of pre-cut fruit can be triple the price of the whole fruit with fewer servings. Place servings in plastic snack bags for a ready-to-go treat.
- Stretch your meat purchase. Making a bowl with beans/rice/meat or making a pasta sauce with meat and other ingredients can give you more meals for, say, one pound of meat than serving the meat by itself.
- Consider ‘meatless Mondays’ to save money. Serve breakfast for dinner or get protein from beans and/or cheese.
- Make breakfast at home – Even when you’re scurrying out the door, grab a banana, toast a bagel or take an energy bar and you’ll save time and money.
- Instead of chips or cookies, have a small bowl of grapes, an apple or some blueberries.
- Instead of salty snacks, have a handful of walnuts or almonds, or make natural or light popcorn.
- Instead of ice cream, make a smoothie with your favorite fresh or frozen fruits.
- Make hardboiled eggs to have on hand when you need an energy boost.
- Instead of a sugary drink, have a glass of acai juice, a flavored or coconut water, cranberry juice, watermelon juice, milk or ice tea.
- Prepare dishes with several servings, such as vegetable lasagna, ahead of time and freeze for quick meals that are ready to heat and eat.
- Avoid grocery shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll be more impulsive and spend more.
- Don’t go overboard buying in bulk. If your family can eat a bag of oranges or apples in a week, get them. If not, buy only what you’re likely to consume before it goes bad. Or, consider a co-op with a neighbor or two. Buy in bulk at a farmer’s market and divide the produce.
- Take your lunch to work. Besides eating better, brown-bagging it three days a week can easily save $100 a month.
- Host a healthy potluck dinner. When you encourage others to share in making and enjoying the feast, everyone wins.
- Traveling? Pack some trail mix, almonds, an energy bar, or pretzels, along with a banana or apple and bottled water in your bag. Airport and convenience stores can cost up to five times as much as grocery prices.
- Portion control is king. When serving your plate, serve a little less than you think you want, and if you’re still hungry, have another half serving. You may be surprised to find that you’re full sooner and on less than you expected.
- Reminders when grocery shopping: to save time and money, think in terms of meals, rather than foods that might not go together. Also, keep staples on hand such as cereals that are not high in sugar, whole-wheat bread, low-fat or natural peanut butter and light or sugar-free jelly, eggs, low-sodium cans of soup, low-fat frozen dinners, salad ingredients, lean ground meat or chicken breasts. Before you go, be sure to get your coupons’ worth. Look online for digital and printable sources of savings.
The key to eating well, saving money, and proactively making your health a priority when it comes to food is mostly planning and preparation. The cherry on top of healthier eating is that you can also gain more energy, feel more alert, slim down, be less hungry between meals, and generally improve your well-being. That, and the money you’ve saved, should make you feel even better.