Lately I have been struggling with eating healthy on a budget. I guess I thought it was going to be a little easier then it is. Sometimes it is really hard to buy all of the fruits, vegetables and lean meats that I need and still stay within my budget. It seems like everything is getting so expensive. So, today I decided to do some research on eating healthy while spending less. Here are some of the ideas I have found and already use or plan to use in the future.
1. Bulking up with beans. This is a new one for me. I am not really familiar with beans. Don’t get me wrong I love beans and I use them every once in a while. I love chili and ham and bean soup but that is about as far as my bean knowledge takes me. I have decided to start looking for some new recipes with beans. Not only are they cheap but they are low fat and full of fiber. Which means it will make you feel fuller longer.
2. Eat at home instead of going out to eat. This is something that I am becoming accustomed to. I do love to go out to eat but with my budget I just can’t afford to do it often. Not only is it cheaper to eat at home but it is also easier to eat healthy and know exactly how many calories you are putting in your mouth.
3. Drink lots of water. It’s FREE! This sounds like a given but I know plenty of people that drink 3 or more diet soda’s a day. It probably doesn’t sound that expensive but the cost of soda for your family can really add up every month. I drink a ton of water every day because I really think it helps flush everything out and I seem to feel a little fuller. In the long run I think it helps me to lose weight. I know some people would argue that but for me it works.
4. Exercise at home. Gym memberships can cost you hundreds of dollars a year which can quickly eat away at your budget. Other ways to get the exercise in without a gym membership are to buy a few exercise DVD’s (my favorite - Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred), borrow some from a friend or the local library or take a nice walk or bike ride. There are so many great ways to get free or almost free exercise.
5. Resist buying the 100 Calorie Packs. Instead make your own. Buy the same item in a box and package yourself or bake yourself a few batches of low fat snacks and put them in bags and write the calories or WW Points on the bag with a Black Sharpie. This may take a little more time and effort but it could save you a ton or money.
6. Clip coupons to save a ton. Check out my previous post on clipping coupons.
7. Buy the store brand. If you don’t have a coupon you can always buy the store brand of that product. Usually the store brand has the same taste and quality at a fraction of the price. I normally only buy store brand if I don’t have a coupon or I have tried the store brand and didn’t like it as much as the name brand.
8. Looking for clothes for those in-between sizes. Check out your local thrift store. I can usually find some really nice clothing that has been gently used at a great price. My local thrift store also has a lot of junk so sometimes I have to dig to find what I want but it usually worth the time spent. I haven’t been there in a few months but last time I was there I purchased several Layne Bryant clothes for a few dollars a piece.
9. Buy your fresh fruits and veggies when they are in season or on sale. I like to go to my local farmer's market in the summer and buy fresh fruits and veggies at a fraction of the price that the grocery stores charge. Not only does it taste better because it is so fresh but it is a really fun experience for my kids. My oldest daughter loves to visit the farmers market and pick out her own fruit and veggies. Last year she ate 6 plums before we even made it to the car. The girl loves fruit!
When it is not farmer's market season I buy my fruits and veggies when they are on sale. I look at the flyers from my two local grocery stores and choose the ones that are at a great price. With the price of fruit today I really can’t afford it unless it is on sale.
10. Buy lean meets when they are on sale and stock up. In theory this is a great idea. Buy meets when they are on sale and then freeze them in smaller portions. When I first started my weight loss journey and my budget I found this very hard because I lived off of my budget week to week. What I started doing is passing up on some of the great buys. I decided to pick one meat a week that was at a great price and stock up on it. It may sound silly but it really worked for me because of the limited amount of money I had available each week. It took a few weeks but I eventually ended up with a freezer full of meat. Unfortunately after I filled my freezer I took a break from buying meat for a few weeks to save money. So now my freezer is about out of meat. Looks like I am going to have to start stocking up on meats again.