Meals can be expensive, especially when you are looking for healthy eating alternatives. Luckily, there are many ways to make healthy eating fit your budget. By setting aside a little extra time to save, plan, and shop, you’d be surprised at how much money you could save. Here are a few different ways you can meal plan on a budget.
Save Money by Planning
Before going to the market, it’s important to know what it is you are shopping for. To help cut down the costs and to avoid food from spoiling, try to only purchase a week’s worth of food at a time. This will help you prevent going out to eat and buying food you don’t necessarily need.
Another penny-saving tip to remember before heading to the store is to check for coupons only for items on your grocery list. It can be expensive to venture off to the store without a game plan. If you have the time to invest and organize the coupons you receive in the mail or online, you could save yourself a lot of money. While there is an initial upfront sacrifice of time to sort and cut the papers, the pay off in the end will be rewarding. Online coupons can be a real time saver!
If space permits, learn how to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Homegrown produce is not only convenient, it’s rich in nutrients! If you don’t have any garden space available in your front or back yard, take advantage of a sunny indoor room where you can grow your own herbs and a few vegetables.
Save Money While Shopping
There are so many branded items in grocery stores that it can be overwhelming. To help you find exactly what you’re looking for and to stay within budget, try to buy store branded products. They tend to be cheaper than all name brands and will help you save money.
For food items that are frequently used and don’t expire quickly such as beans, rice, pasta, and other dried foods, look to buy those in bulk at a more efficient cost. Fresh produce should be purchased once a week (or every other week) to avoid wasting or spoiling.
Save Money in the Kitchen
It is important to invest in items that are going to help you out in the long run such as a slow cooker – the “set it and forget it” method. Slow cookers are great for cooking large batches of food, and will provide lots of leftovers you can enjoy at a later date. To keep the leftovers fresh, freeze them and have them readily available for those nights you don’t know what to cook.
For busy weeks, meal prep is key. Make your meals in advance and take your lunch on the go. This will help keep you on track and avoid spending money around lunchtime. To help cut down the cost of meat, make vegetables your main dish and use meat as a side dish. For those of you who are vegetarians, beans and legumes can be used as substitutes. Tofu is a great option, too!
While serving healthy meals on a tight budget can be a challenge, the above strategies will help you stay on track. Setting aside some time to plan and prep is important. Understanding which foods that are the best bang for your buck in regards to cost and nutrition will take you one step closer to making wise food choices.