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Sometimes it’s not willpower that keeps people from eating healthy, it’s the wallet. Just head to any food blog or turn on the Food Network and you’ll probably realize that all those fantastic meals aren’t cheap.
While on the surface that may be true, with a little planning, organization, and willpower, you can build a healthier diet without paying an arm and a leg. We’ve created several tips to help you revamp your diet.
BUY IN SEASON
Just because you love corn, doesn’t mean you absolutely have to eat it in the winter. One key to eating right on a budget is to buy in season, every season. Why? Because you pay a lot less for produce that’s currently being harvested, and much more for your favorites that have to be carted in from half a world away.
Here’s how to start. Make a list of what grows in every season, and then create several recipes around those foods. Who knows: you might even find some new favorites. And if you want to take your eating frugality even further, buy seasonal produce in bulk and then freeze it. That way you can enjoy some of your favorite foods months down the road. And all of your friends will be in awe of how amazingly frugal you’ve become. Works every time.
HUNT DOWN SALES
You know what’s totally fun but nobody does anymore? Coupon clipping? Seriously, if you haven’t experienced the complete rush of going through your grocer’s weekly circulars, and finding those hidden gems, you haven’t lived yet.
Coupon clipping might seem petty, but the savings really add up. And beyond coupon clipping, game planning your grocery shopping around weekly specials can end up saving you a bunch of money on food. And here’s a pro tip. If you’re into eating healthy, check out the sales on frozen vegetables. They happen regularly, and they are pretty great.
MEAL PREP TIME
You’ve probably seen a few meal prep articles or videos online. Undoubtedly you have at least one meal prep evangelist friend in your life that you’re probably sick of hearing from. But we’re here to tell you that meal prep isn’t just a fad—it can be a time and budget-saving tool that will also help you eat healthier.
Because let’s face it: we’ve all woken up at least three times a week either too tired or lazy to actually prepare a healthy meal. So instead of treating our bodies right during the day, we end up going out. And if we’re anywhere near a budget, that dining location probably won’t be optimal.
Don’t leave lunch up to fate. Spend one afternoon during your weekend and prepare your meals in advance. You’ll need some good portable containers and some healthy go-to dishes that you can prepare in bulk. Then all you have to do is eat.
ORGANIZE YOUR PANTRY
Stop us if this sounds familiar: you walk up to your pantry to a fairly disheveled array of food, see nothing interesting to eat, shrug your shoulders and say something like, “guess I’m eating out tonight.” When it comes to eating healthy—especially on a budget—there may be no bigger enemy of the state than an unorganized pantry. Food slips through the cracks, and options aren’t immediately available. Same goes for your fridge. Invest in a few food storage containers and Tupperware sets, and then clearly label your food with tape and a marker. Knowing what’s readily available to eat can help you stay healthier and save a lot of money.
VISIT THE FARMERS MARKET AT THE END OF THE DAY
Farmers markets are wonderful, and they’re usually available at least on weekends no matter where you live. Unless you live on a farm, in which case feel free to skip this entire section.
Farmers markets offer an amazing display of incredible non-processed produce. But if you choose to go at the end of the day, you might be able to score a few more deals than you would have during the earlier hours. You’ll also skip the large crowds and heat.
GAME PLAN YOUR GROCERY SHOPPING
If you head into the grocery store without a game plan, you’re going to regret it. You will, undoubtedly spend more money, and most likely fill your shopping cart with foods that aren’t incredibly healthy.
Grocery shopping starts with a solid list as well as the commitment to stick to that list NO. MATTER. WHAT. Yes, those Pringles might be calling your name, but are they on your list? If they aren’t, bid them a sad farewell and leave them on the shelf. Healthier, more affordable grocery shopping is also helped by shopping from the outside in. When you begin on the outer perimeter of the store, you will be more likely to fill your cart with healthier produce first.
Also, don’t shop when you’re hungry. That’s mistake numero uno that people make. Go after you’ve had a nice healthy meal. It will put you in the right mindset, and you’ll be less likely to reach for the pastries.
Cooking large meals, even if you don’t have a large family, can save you a lot of time and money. Even if you’re a professional chef, nobody likes to cook an elaborate meal every night. When you cook larger portions, you get to save all those delicious leftovers for a rainy day—like tomorrow.