No matter what age or place in life we may be, most of us “adults” do some form of budgeting of our finances. We can’t all be the Prince of Dubai, after all. And considering that you are here reading this, you must be one of us commoners then.
Now, if you watch your finances then you probably have figured out at some point that healthy food is expensive. True, organic and fresh food tends to be more expensive than a quick McDonalds run. However, as lovely as that burger may be, money is not a sufficient enough reason to eat unhealthy and we all know this. Just as you would budget and shop for the best deals on electronics or clothing, you can also budget for your meals. There are a few common rules that can help you make healthy and affordable meals, so you can keep your hot bod and your bank account in check.
1. Buy Non-Perishable Items
Purchasing food that does not spoil easily is a great thing for your grocery list and bank account. Rice, oats, quinoa…anything you can think of, buy it in bulk. By buying in bulk food that does not expire quickly, you’ll get a cheaper deal and will have more meals in the long, unlike fresh produce or meat which has a rather rapid expiry date.
2. Plan Your Vegetables
Buying in-season or frozen veggies will do you a world of good when it comes to your bank account. While fresh and organic vegetables are the dream, depending on where you live, year round purchase of vegetables that are out of season will likely be costly. If you are on a budget, you can still get the nutrition out of veggies if you purchase what’s in season or even frozen veggies to add to your meals. Frozen vegetables tend to be frozen when they’re ripe and thus still nutritionally dense, providing you with adequate nutrients at a much lesser cost, and they’ll last longer. If you want a cheat sheet…cabbage, spinach, carrots, kale and broccoli are all nutritional vegetables that tend to cost the least in the grocery store. Opt for these types of choices. If you don’t know when each vegetable is in season, check out this list.
3. Buy Affordable Protein
While you may love a nice, fresh steak…you can’t always get what you want when you’re on a budget. Opt for affordable protein alternatives. Eggs, beans, and particular cuts of meat are all bound to be cheaper but equally as satisfying for you. Beans and eggs especially are favored by young body builders because they’re affordable and full of protein. Buying frozen chicken breasts in bulk is also a great alternative for those of you who meal prep. When buying meat, beef or pork, take a look at the type of cuts you’re buying. Don’t pay more for meat simply because it is nicely cut and packaged…you can slice it and freeze it yourself at home. When buying pork, sirloin chop and the coppa are good options, and buying ground meat is cheaper than fresh cuts for instance.
Normally I’d steer clear of canned foods, as I don’t deal with preservatives and all that, but meats such as canned tuna are also a great and affordable protein source.
4. Buy Affordable Fruit or Wait For Sales
The hardest food to shop for on a budget is fruit. It’s almost as if all retailers just don’t want us to enjoy the delicious nutrition that fruits provide, since they’re so damn expensive. If you don’t have the time or patience to be visiting your store regularly looking for good sales on fruit, then there are a few key fruits which tend to be lower priced and still adequate for your diet. Bananas, watermelon and pears are all nutritious fruits which tend to cost less than the organic strawberries or cherries. These cheaper types of fruits are not only delicious but they still pack antioxidants and vitamins to help maintain your health! Yes, watermelon is mainly water but it does contain antioxidants and vitamins A and C as well!
5. Buy Ingredients
The biggest money saving tip when it comes to groceries is to cook or prepare your own food and drink. Buying coffee creamer and coffee to make at home is going to cost about as much as buying Starbucks for just 2 morning in a row, but it will last you at least two weeks. Preparing your own meals will give you more value for your money and thus save you a ton of money. Invest in good Tupperware and a thermos and you’ll be saving a lot more money in the long run by preparing things using ingredients you get yourself.