Nutritious food can be expensive, and it can be difficult to eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables when you’re on a tight budget. Eating healthier often means spending more money, which can make it difficult to stick. Many people think that eating healthy foods is expensive and eating poorly is cheap. This is probably because fast food is inexpensive, and high-quality meats and fresh vegetables seem more expensive.
Eating healthy foods doesn’t have to be more expensive, as long as you make smart decisions about what to eat and how much to spend. In fact, here are 6 lessons I’ve learnt about how to be frugal and eat healthy at the same time.
1. Make a Meal Plan
Most people usually plan their meals once a week. But I do it twice a week. I usually sit down every Sunday and Wednesday to figure out what I’m going to eat for the next few days. Previously, I sat down once a week to plan my meals. But I realized that I tend to make a lot of changes throughout the week depending on what I feel like eating at that time. So, I decided to reduce it to 3-4 days instead of 7 days.
2. Meal Prepping
Meal prepping is a great time and money-saver. I always make healthy meals in bulk and freeze them for later. Doing this not only saves me on a busy day of work when I have no energy left to cook, but also stops me from ordering delivery which is a waste of money. It also helps to make sure I have healthy food available for the future, so I don’t always need to buy more.
3. Make a Grocery List
This probably seems like an overly-simple tip, but it is really powerful before you know it. Making a grocery list shows all the ingredients I’ll need for each and avoid massive food wastage. I usually list out what’s on sale in my favourite grocery store, what I’ve already got on hand, and what I’ll be needing for my meals. For me, this keeps me on track and helps me reduce over-spending when I get a little too excited in the snack aisle.
4. Choose the Right Store
Yes, you may not know, but the store you choose to stop at does impact the ability you eating healthy and be frugal! I love comparing the price of foods nearby the local stores and came out with the decision of which store is the best to stock up on my monthly groceries. I also included the gas fare when comparing the pricing. There’s no point in saving the cost on food only to find out you’re spending an excessive amount on gas fares.
5. Track and Set a Groceries/Dine out/Delivery Budget
It’s worth taking the time to track, calculate and set a budget for your food expenses every month. Before I started to set a budget for my food expenses, I first tracked average monthly spending for over 3 months, and it shocked me to figure out how much I literally spend solely on food. I reflected on it, worked on what I could cut down on, and set a realistic budget. Currently, I’m using Google Excel on my phone to track my monthly food expenses. I split it into weekly for easier to keep track and remind myself how much I left for the next few weeks.
6. Limit Meat and Dairy
Meat and dairy are very costly compared to other forms of protein. I’ve been cutting down on meat and dairy consumption and go on plant-based a few times each week. It saves me a lot of money and is better for the planet, too. There are many misconceptions about eating plant-based, but it tends to be cheaper and healthier than you’d think. When going on a plant-based diet, I always make sure to get my protein from alternative sources like beans, lentils, tofu, and nuts each day.
You don’t have to break the bank to eat healthily. In fact, there are many ways to eat nutrient-rich foods even on a very tight budget. I’ve been using these 6 tips for many years now, and it saves me a lot of money. In return, I use the money for travelling or doing something I love.