When your budget is tight, it can really be a challenge to plan meals and shop for healthy groceries. However, practice and dedication make for perfection. You may not be successful in maintaining a healthy eating habit from day one, but you’re going to get there slowly. All it takes is knowledge, dedication, and understanding what to eat and what not to. Also, budget-eating does not mean eating less nutritious or bland food. With the right techniques and tricks, your low budget food can taste just as good as something right off a reputed restaurant’s menu.
Here are our top tips to eating healthy on a budget to help you indulge in great food without making a hole in your wallet:
Freeze Fresh Produce
It is great to be buying fresh things off the market, but doing that every day isn’t exactly the economical way to go. In order to cut costs, always buy fresh produce that is in-season. Whenever you find a good deal, consider buying in bulk and freezing them. This applies for fruits, vegetables, meat and even fish. Ensure that you label your meat cuts and fish properly before freezing so that when you take them out to cook, they don’t confuse you as to what was what. Make use of your Ziploc bags and air tight containers for this purpose. Some fruits, such as strawberries can be frozen in their own juices or reduced, which can be reused in different desserts. You can also try making jams, jellies and pickles with the fruits and vegetables available to make them last and get the most out of them. Bell peppers, onions, peas and carrots can save a lot of prep time if bought frozen.
Make use of your Ziploc bags and airtight containers for this purpose. Some fruits, such as strawberries can be frozen in their own juices or reduced, which can be reused in different desserts. You can also try making jams, jellies and pickles with the fruits and vegetables available to make them last and get the most out of them. Bell peppers, onions, peas and carrots can save a lot of prep time if bought frozen.
Keep an eye out for the Sale Sign
If you see that your nearest grocery store is offering any kind of savings card, coupon or sale; make the most of that opportunity. Sign up for discounts on your purchases so that you get rewarded every time you shop for groceries. Make it a point to check the weekly ads to see what items are on sale.
A great way to plan meals properly is to plan them around what items are on sale. Instead of shopping according to your needs, base your needs on what’s available for cheap. This will make you more creative with food and maybe you’ll try dishes you’ve never had before. If you don’t have the time for a lot of prep before cooking, you should also watch out for sale on frozen vegetables as they save a world of time.
Cheaper Cuts of Meat
Meat can still be enjoyed even if your budget is tight. You can always see if less expensive meat cuts are available. Look for red meat with skin on, bone in, organ meats and tougher cuts; which are both cheap and nutritious. Tougher cuts of meat can be made juicy and tender with the slow cooker.
Other great options are pork belly, cheeks, lamb neck fillets, beef shin, whole chickens, chicken livers, thighs gizzard etc. They are going to yield enough for leftovers that you can use in soups, stocks etc. Consider searching for recipes in cookbooks or online to help bring out the best from these unconventional cuts of meat.
Whole grain is the Way to Go
Freekeh, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat flour, beans, etc. are inexpensive as well as tasty as they can bulk up your meals and are rich in dietary fiber. To stretch your meat, use black means and put them in a chili so that the dish can last you longer. You can also make burger patties using cooked black beans and ground meat.
Whole wheat couscous, wheat berries, etc. can be cooked and frozen in single portions so that you can put them in soups or salads when needed. Whole grains also keep your appetite in check, keeping you full for longer. If you are trying to lose weight, make the best out of whole grains.
Try and learn to cook food from around the world with the inexpensive ingredients available. Indian and Mexican cuisines, in particular, rely on cheap ingredients such as rice and beans. They rely very little on meat and allow for mixing and matching various ingredients- helping you waste less and save more. Make tacos and burritos filled with anything you have at home. These foods offer you tons of fiber and protein.
Another great way to save money is shopping for groceries at ethnic markets, such as Chinese, Lebanese or Greek, in your area. These great markets are full of colors, aromas and interesting ingredients that often come at a bargain. At Asian markets, you get different varieties of noodles at a much lower price compared to the supermarket varieties.
With these tips, meals are going to be more filling in the cheapest way.