One of my newest endeavours is to find ways that see me eating healthier on a budget. I’m currently trying out a dairy-free diet to see if it combats an autoimmune disease that I have, and what I’m finding is eating healthy is really expensive.
I’m not sure why a bag of chips is way cheaper than a pack of organic strawberries, but someone somewhere out there is just raking it in. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some tips and tricks that I use to stay on budget while I’m trying to eat healthier.
Make Your Own Food From Scratch
Bad things are in everything. If it’s frozen, boxed or packaged, chances are the dish has some kind of preservative in it. When it comes to eating healthier on a budget, making your own food is one of your best friends. For the price of one prepackaged meals, you can make a handful of meals by simply purchasing the ingredients.
One of the big things I find about pre-packaged meals like frozen lasagna is that it has a ton of salt in it. Loads and loads of salt—not great for you. But when you make your own food from scratch, you can control what actually goes into the dish.
There is a ton of opportunity to substitute ingredients from something you shouldn’t have to something else—in my case, when baking a banana bread I can substitute normal chocolate chips for a dairy-free version and butter for applesauce, and voila, dairy free banana bread.
Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
When it comes to eating healthier on a budget, one of the best things you can do is plan your meals in advance. This is especially the case if you’re going to tackle the challenge of creating your own food from scratch
One of my biggest complaints about transitioning to a dairy free lifestyle is that getting dairy-free products is really expensive. So, to combat that, I plan a bunch of meals that use the same ingredients so I’m not buying a ton of things that I’ll only use to create one meal.
When it comes to planning your meals out, make sure that you’re planning ALL of your meals, not just dinner. What are you going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And don’t forget about snacks!
Shop With Your List
It’s really hard to get off track when you’re trying to tackle eating healthier on a budget if you’re shopping listless through the local grocery story. Groceries can easily lull you into a sense of cheapness—$3 here, $4 there… but it adds up quickly.
That’s where your list comes in. Make sure to bring your list along with you to the grocery store… and stick with it. Only visit the places in the store where you need to find products, and put your blinders on in the other areas—especially the frozen food and pre-packed meals sections.
Skip Lunches Out
When it comes to eating healthier on a budget, a great rule to follow is to bring a bagged lunch to work instead of eating out. Eating out for lunch adds up fast, if you spend $10 on a meal daily you’re looking at a budget of $2,600 a year. That’s a ton of cash, especially when you’re trying to skim down on your spending.
Plus, food purchased at a restaurant tends to be a little more unhealthy than what you would bring along. Especially if you’re stopping in for a deep-fried lunch pub deal. So, skip the meals out or restrict them to special occasions to cut back.
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