There’s this myth about if you change your diet to eating healthier foods, you will spend more money. I’ve chosen to write this guide because I too had a pair of spending more money. There was a time when I decided to try a new diet trend called the Paleo Diet. I can honestly tell you that yes, indeed I spent more money. The money I spent way more than I normally would trying so hard to change my habits. Now starting round two on eating healthy but my own way. It’s easy to get stuck in a diet trend but what’s more important is that you take care of your body.
Knowing what is good for your health does not require a master plan; it’s just the knowledge of good for you and what’s not. The problem was that I was trying to do exact recipes that other people were doing. And I didn’t shop strategically and the ways I’m going to share with you in this article. The actual diet is not causing you to overspend; it’s how you shop and what you buy that is busting your budget. You can, in fact, still save money while still eating healthily.
The Benefits of eating healthy
If you’re snacking on a bag of chips while reading this article and probably started staring at the bag, thinking, why should I switch? I’m not going to lie; I still love eating my Lay’s chips; they are my favorite snacks, especially with the side of the dip, but… it’s not good to eat it all the time. So the thought process is either spend money wisely on eating healthy now or spend money later on health care costs. I’m sure you would agree that you would rather spend money on organic food than a doctor’s visit.
Building a stronger immune system. Having a healthy diet helps you avoid a doctor visit during the flu season. Now that we are experiencing a pandemic based on a virus, aka the covid-19, shows you the importance of your immune system. Long term effects of eating unhealthy can cause illness like heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Besides thinking of the healthcare cost, eating healthy helps you live a better life.
Snacking on healthy foods vs. junk food
I know all about cravings, especially while working; I always feel that I need to snack on something. You might be familiar with the feeling of “ oh, I just have a taste for something sweet, or I just have a craving for something salty.” Choosing a healthier snack can still satisfy those cravings. Why not pick out a fruit or something sweet? Does crack open some peanuts for something salty? Pick out fruit like Bananas, which have always been the cheapest fruit in grocery stores. Even the organic kinds are no more than 60 cents a pound.
There’s always a bowl of fruit in my kitchen. It’s better for your pockets to always shop in the season when buying produce. In the summer, there are more oranges versus in the fall when you can grab a bag of apples for a low price. As a mom, the fruit is always needed for my son to grab when he is in the mood for a snack.
Another frugal way to add fruit to your diet is to try canned fruit. It might not be your first option as always fresh is best; however, you can try going for something with 100% juice, low in sodium, and low in sugar.
What is one of the cheapest ways to add protein to your meal? Well, adding an egg, of course! Eggs are a great way to add protein and diet. You can grab a carton of eggs for less than $5; in stores like Walmart and Dollar General, it’s a fraction of that price. Many recipes include eggs you can make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Growing your own Produce
It’s a great idea to grow your own fruits, vegetables, and or at least some herbs if it’s possible. Growing produce takes time and effort, but it makes it more delicious, knowing that it’s fresh and picked at the right time. Seeds are generally cheap; find them even at your local Walmart store.
Creating a Healthy Meal Plan
The best way to stick to healthier habits is to create a plan. It’s tempting to go back to junk food, but sticking to it is just the only challenge if you have a plan in place. I’ve discussed meal planning, and in one of my previous articles, it’s definitely the best way to save money before you go grocery shopping. If you want to check out my meal planning process, you can read the article below.
Healthy Meal Planning Tools
One place to check out for healthy recipes is Choosemyplate.gov. It’s quite obvious a resource regarding learning about healthy foods, but they have a tool called MyPlate kitchen. It’s a tool that helps with meal planning, cooking recipes, and grocery shopping tips. All the recipes help you meet health goals and balanced nutrition.
After a plan is in place, next comes the shopping. Before we start purchasing the items on your meal plan, we have to make a list. Don’t feel like you have to only shop at one store to grab everything that you need. I like to do after I plan my meals to go through all of the circulars for deals for the week. My favorite app to try and most convenient is Flipp. Download this app on your phone or view it on your computer. Once you enter your ZIP code in the app, it will generate all of the current weekly ads for stores around in your area.
Next, you can select “grocery” from the menu to narrow down your search. In each weekly ad, you can click on the item, and a Flipp will generate a shopping list for you. The shopping list feature is my favorite part. I can also take a picture of my written list, and Flipp will upload the items to their formatted list. Second, the best feature is that certain store cards can be uploaded to the app. Link your store card to the app, and Flipp clip these coupons to your card. Coupons for groceries equals more savings on your purchases.
Finding Budget Friendly Healthy Recipes
Healthy recipes don’t have to be dull and tasteless. I find excitement and trying new things, and this includes cooking. Please do some research on new recipes you never tried before, look at the ingredients to make sure it’s balanced in nutrition. My favorite search engine for recipes indeed is Pinterest; you can create a recipe board and add many pins of the ones you want to cook. I have a board for dinner, quick lunch meals, and desserts.
When you first click on the pin, usually you get a preview of the ingredients, then clicking on the image will navigate to the website for the full recipe. Grabbing a cookbook is not a thing of the past. Even though everything is mostly digital, I appreciate a good cookbook. Cookbooks do come pricey, but you can buy used. My alternative is going to my thrift store to pick up some cookbooks. The thrift stores I go to are most of the books that are only a dollar. I love how they look lined up in my kitchen like a collection.
Cooking ahead to Save for later
I’m not afraid of leftovers; they tend always to be my lunch the next day. So when preparing a meal, if you want to save some extra money, make large portions for the next day’s lunch or plan a day for leftovers. Another tip is to cook all the meat in one day to use for multiple meals. Is rice more frequent in most of your recipes, then making a large pot of rice will help you save time for other meals? Pasta is super affordable and made into a variety of recipes. A delicious pasta meal is super filling and can be good for your health, especially if you switch to whole wheat pasta. Whole wheat pasta has a great source of energy from the fiber, vitamin b. Store extra pasta in a ziplock and refrigerate it for another recipe. Cooking ahead for either the sides of the meat will save money and time.