Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How I Eat Healthy On A Budget

Lately I have had many people ask me how I eat healthy on a budget. So in today's post I decided to share a little on this topic.

1. I never go to the grocery store with out knowing what I have at home in my fridge, freezer and cupboards. Right now we don't have much but as you will see from my dinner posted below that you can almost always throw something together with what you have around the house.

2. Always try Aldi first. I am at the point now that I know what Aldi carries and what they don't but always make a list and then check off the items you can get at Aldi first. This step is very helpful.

3. Make a list! This is the most helpful thing that I have found when you are on a budget. I make a list of all of the ingredients in my recipes (minus what I already have in the house). Then I go through the list and count up approximately how much it will cost me to make sure I don't go over my budget. If I think I am over I will cross off items that I can do without. Then I separate my list by store (Aldi, Walmart, Giant, Weis). As I go through the store I cross off the items that I have found. It makes life so much easier when you have a list. I don't know about you but if I walk into Walmart without a list I am lucky if I walk out without spending $100. It is so easy to get off track without a list.

4. Coupons are another one of my favorites. You can read my post on coupons here. I love this post. It is nice to read about my beginning learning experiences of buying healthy food on a budget.

5. Eating Leftovers. Before I started this weight loss journey I thought nothing of throwing out leftovers every night. They weren't my thing so I didn't eat them. Now I am a whole new person. You do what you have to do to get by. So now I eat leftovers. Usually we wait a day so we don't get sick of them or sometimes I can take what we had and turn it into a completely different meal. Sometimes I will add rice or potatoes or Smart Taste pasta and make a little casserole or even take the meat and just add a new side dish. Eating leftovers isn't so bad if you get a little creative!

6. Being creative with the food you have in the house. On nights like tonight I find this trick very helpful. It's been a busy week with the beach and the photo shoot so I really didn't do much planning. It has also been financially hard because of going to the beach. It wasn't an expensive vacation at all but with gas, tolls and parking meters it all adds up. So this week we have just been eating what we have in the house. It definitely make my job harder but sometimes being creative is a lot of fun. Last nights dinner was reduced fat pancakes, scrambled eggs and turkey sausage links. Cooking breakfast for dinner can always be inexpensive and healthy and the kids love it. Tonight I threw together a Shepard's pie in a not so traditional way. I used the ingredients that I had in the house. I will post some pictures below to show you how I made it. I find the "eating from what you have" method to be one of my favorites. As long as I have some sort of meat in the freezer I can throw something together. It comes in very handy when you are having a hard week financially.

1 lb of beef found in the freezer (fried w/ a little salt and pepper)

2 cans of green beens from the cupboard (drained)

1 can of carrots from the cupboard (drained)

5 slices of Weight Watcher's pepper jack 2% cheese slices and 2 (2%) American cheese slices found in fridge

6 servings of instant potatoes (milk, water and salt) - no butter because I was out of it

The finished product was incredible. It had so much flavor from the Weight Watcher's pepper jack cheese. The whole family loved it! Another recipe success. :)


Here are some other great tips that I wrote about in an earlier post. It is always good for me to reread this post and remind myself of all of the great ideas I used in the past. I hope they help you too!

10 Ways To Save Money While Losing Weight

from: March 3, 2009
Jessica Brown - Pudget: Losing Weight On A Budget

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.


Please leave a comment below with your favorite tip to eat healthy on a budget. I love sharing ideas!



Anonymous said...

I definitely do lots of couponing to save money. I get all my household items, cleaning supplies, and toiletries very close to free. This frees up some extra money to splurge a little on food (things like fresh produce and lean meats or seafood). And I do a majority of my food shopping at Aldi. I can go in without a list there and still not spend much money. I especially like their apples ($2.49 for 3 lb bag), seafood (around $4/lb for tilapia, salmon, Mahi Mahi), and frozen fruit for smoothies.

Kristin said...

I never thought of using cheese slices on Sherpard's pie! Nice! I found 1% block cheese (Carbana's) at Wal-mart. It was dry to cut it, but melted nicely!

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