It may seem counterintuitive to imagine saving money and eating healthy at the same time, but it’s easier than you might believe. Many of us have the misconception that these kinds of healthy diets are geared for rich people who shop at specialty stores full of strange high-priced vegan foods and pretentious fair trade products. And if that were true, then eating healthy on a budget would be impossible. But lucky for us, it isn’t.
There’s actually a lot of ways to eat healthy on a budget. We’ve gathered together five of our favorite strategies to help you get started down the path of healthy eating on a budget.
There are several advantages that cooking at home has over eating out. It’s almost always a less expensive and healthier option, as you get to control the quality of ingredients. Fast food is almost always drenched in salt, oil, and sugar, a trio you should always try to avoid. Mid-level restaurants tend to have higher quality food, but they’re four to five times more expensive than cooking at home, and still loaded with fats and sodium.
Cooking at home also makes it less likely that you’ll be tempted to break your diet or budget. It’s simply too easy to stray when temptation is only a menu order away. Speaking of which...
Another place temptation is rife is at the supermarket. To avoid impulse purchases, draw up a grocery list with the foods and ingredients you’ll need for the week. Once you’re at the store, stick to it exactly. Having a list helps you focus on what you actually need, and keeps you from making impulse purchases.
If you think of a new food you need while at the store, mark it on your grocery list and you can circle back for it tomorrow. Removing it from your immediate reach will force you to consider whether it’s actually worth making a new trip for it. If it isn’t, you probably didn’t need it in the first place.
Planning out your meals at the beginning of the week shifts what you eat from what you want in the moment to a deliberate decision you’re in control of. You can pick which foods and meals best fit your diet, and cut out the ones that don’t.
Just like no general has ever won a battle without a strategy, you’ll never be able to balance healthy eating and saving money without a strategy. Planning out your meals is also the only way you’re going to be able to effectively keep cooking at home and sticking to your grocery list.
Now that you’re planning out your meals at the beginning of each week, you can buy food in bulk without worrying about wasting any. Economy of scale makes it less expensive to buy your food in bulk than in smaller quantities, and getting so much at once will ensure that you won’t have to constantly run out to the store as you are cooking at home.
This tip is a little out of step with the others, but still important, as soda is one of the single most unhealthy things you can ingest. Without exaggerating, it’s the equivalent of chugging liquid sugar. While there’s nothing wrong with having soda on special occasions or when enjoying a meal out, a lot of people drink it at home on a regular basis. If that describes you, you should immediately replace the soda can with a water bottle. Water is cheaper, especially if you buy a reusable bottle you can fill right from the sink.
If you find you just can’t adjust to exclusively drinking water, there is a wide variety of flavored sparkling waters and other carbonated beverages you can drink instead. They’re a little higher priced than water, but can still be an effective option if you’re having trouble converting.
Hopefully these five tips will help you save money and eat healthier. With a little planning and self-control, it’s entirely possible to do both. If you find yourself struggling with money from month to month, a healthy option for your finances might be an installment loan. Installment loans are designed to help with unexpected expenses and cash emergencies, and you can get as much as $2,600. Just fill out our quick online form and we’ll connect you to licensed installment loan vendors in your area.