There are many simple ways to eat healthy and lower food costs at the same time. The most important tip to eating healthy for less money is to take the time to prepare foods yourself rather than buying prepackaged meals or dining out at restaurants. The way to achieve a healthy meal plan and save dollars is to be creative, flexible and prepared when you go to the grocery store.
The most obvious goal for anyone wanting to improve the nutritional value of their diet is to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables while decreasing the amount of red meat and prepackaged meals. It is also important to note that having a nutritious meal plan does not mean you have to buy supplements or exotic foods. You can get all your vitamins, minerals, protein and other nutrients in normal foods that can be found at any grocery store.
Here are a few hints to help you save money and eat healthier.
1. Nothing from a box. See how long you can go by cooking only meals that come from fresh foods. The nutritional value of food drops drastically when it is processed. Compare a box of macaroni and cheese with the cost and nutritional value of making the mac and cheese from scratch.
2. Beans, chicken and fish. One of the most expensive parts of a healthy diet is obtaining protein. Beans are a very cheap source of high amounts of proteins. Look for different recipes that use beans and make those foods a regular part of your diet. Try to add fish whenever possible, while it is not always cheap, it has huge health benefits. Finally, replace the red meat in your meals with chicken. Making that change will greatly improve the health benefits of your meals and make them cheaper.
3. The overripe bin. This little section of your supermarket should be one of the first places you look when you start shopping. It is very easy to find fruits and vegetables here that are very edible and very suitable in things like smoothies or juices. Imagine finding a pineapple and a bunch of bananas for pennies each and enjoying a wonderful smoothie with your family for practically nothing.
4. Grow a little garden, even if it just contains a few things like tomatoes and peppers. Tomatoes are one of the healthiest things you can eat, loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, there are few foods that rival tomatoes for pure health benefits. Fortunately the health benefits of tomatoes are retained while freezing them. Buy them when they are in season and cheap, and then freeze them for when they are more expensive.
5. Smaller portions, more variety. One of the real secrets to eating more nutritious is to put much smaller portions on your plate, but include more different foods. This makes it much easier to mix in high cost proteins into a meal that contains cheap vegetables and fruit. Throw a slice of tomato, or a few carrot sticks on the plate at each meal and watch the nutritional value rise greatly.
While eating healthy and saving money sounds difficult, it is actually very easy with just a little extra time. The biggest secret is to prepare as many of your meals as possible from raw, unprocessed foods. Substitute expensive protein sources like beef with lower cost alternatives like beans and chicken. Buy vegetables when they are in season, especially tomatoes, and freeze them for year-round use. Finally, put smaller portions on your plate, but add a few additional side items like a slices or tomatoes, cucumbers or carrots.