5 Tips for Cooking Healthy on a Budget

This is a guest post by Lisa Brown

For many people out there, eating healthy while saving money is an ironic statement. It is so common to hear someone say that they would love to eat healthy, but just don’t have the budget or time for that right now. Well guess what, it’s just a myth accepted by so many and there are plenty ways to eat healthy while on a budget.

With all those expensive juices, powders and superfoods produced especially for people wanting to lose weight, a widely accepted misconception has emerged that eating healthy comes with a price. Though junk foods are cheaper than anything out there, it is a lot better to eat less of good nutritious foods than to eat more of cheap, processed food that cost the same amount.

It’s already a challenge to plan meals and shop for groceries, when you have a tight budget, but once you decide to dedicate yourself on eating healthy, it can get even trickier. Worry no more and motivate yourself to eating healthy because we’ve got this covered for you.

Here are some budget friendly tips to buy, cook and eat healthy along with saving money.

Shop in Season

Eating healthy means you’ll need to buy fresh fruits and veggies all the time. Fresh produce is good for you in so many ways, but the cost can add up fast. If you want to save money when buying fresh produce, stick with buying fruits and vegetables that are currently in season. In-season produce is always cheaper.

You might be used to getting your favourite fruits and veggies all year round and may not realise their varying costs in every season. Not only are the base prices lower in-season, but they often go on sale during their peak growing months.

Research on what fruits and veggies are special to this season. Log on to your region’s agricultural sites and find out about fruits and veggies that grow in the current season. For instance, berries of all kinds stay on sale throughout  summer, whereas in cooler months, you can find deals on apples, oranges, winter squashes and clementine. These foods can make awesome snacks for lunch boxes.

Buy in Bulk and Freeze

Buying in bulk and stocking up on foods like fresh fruits, veggies, fish, and lean meats when they are on sale can help you save a lot. Freeze all excess food bought and use it in months ahead. You can also buy shelf-stable items in bulk like dry beans, canned veggies and low-sodium vegetable broth when on sale, as they can last for weeks or months in your pantry.

If your sale item is a perishable food such as fruits or veggies, use them in multiple dishes and snacks throughout the week. If you love corn, buy three or four dozen ears of corn when it is on sale. Cut it from the ear and freeze it in bags, or freeze it whole. Enjoy corn for cheap for several months. You can also do the same for other vegetables.

Buying frozen fruits and veggies can be cheaper than buying fresh. Bulk foods like grains, nuts, etc and frozen fruits and vegetables are fairly low-priced. A research published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis showed that frozen produce has same or greater nutritional value as its fresh form.

Fortunately for us, frozen fruits and vegetables are actually harvested when they’re at their perfect ripeness. They are frozen immediately and so they might be packed with more nutrients and flavour whereas the produce that is destined to be sold fresh is harvested before its  fully ripe, giving it less time to develop all vitamins and minerals. Not only do frozen foods last longer, but they are also easier to add into any meal.

Buying frozen fruits and veggies can also be a huge time saver as its already washed, peeled and cut. Make sure you buy them in accordance with what the USDA recommends i.e buying frozen veggies without added sauces or butter, as it will add empty calories and sodium to your diet.

Blend frozen fruits or veggies and enjoy healthy delicious smoothies for breakfast. Get your own restaurant quality food blenders from UAE Ekuep and make healthy food prep easier.

Shop smart and stock up!

Plan and Prep Meals Ahead

Planning meals ahead can go a long way in saving time and money when buying groceries and cooking healthy meals. Write down all the meals you would like to eat the whole week and then make a list of all things you will be needing before going grocery shopping. This will help you buy only what is needed, and you’ll be shocked at how much you’ve saved by all this planning.

Prepare as much food as you can when you have free time, whether it’s the veggies you want to eat in the coming week, or if it’s just breakfast for the next day. Planning can also help you stay on track. Prepping in advance will help you follow healthy eating patterns, keeping you away from cravings and temptations, because even if you feel lazy or tired someday you won’t need to get a takeout when you already have a fully prepared meal at home. This tip will also make sure you’re eating what’s in the fridge and minimise waste.

If you don’t mind eating the same thing every day to stay healthy, try cooking two meals on a Sunday night. Pack them in microwave safe containers and you’ll be all set for lunch and dinner for the whole week, with just one night of cooking.

Try Other Proteins Instead of Meat

Meat is expensive but you need protein too. Eating too much meat is neither good for your health nor your bank balance. Cut down on meat intake and ease into a less meat-intensive diet by supplementing your meals with other protein sources such as tofu, eggs, legumes, beans, quinoa, lentils, green peas, edamame, nut butters and Ezekiel bread. With time, or when you are ready, completely replace meat with alternative protein sources on at least one or two days of the week.

Plant-based proteins are cheaper, nutritious and have the added advantage of having a longer shelf life. Switch to beans and whole grains as they are inexpensive and a rather delicious way to bulk up your meals.

If you’re a meat-eater and there’s no way you can leave it, learn to love cheaper cuts like bone-in, skin-on, tougher cuts of red meat and organ meats compared to boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Try other cooking methods like slow cooking to make those tougher cuts of meat tender and juicy.

Store Better

Staying organised can save you money in many ways and food is no exception! When you bring new groceries, move older products to the front and store the new stuff at the back so that you consume older stuff before it expires.

Keep your pantry, fridge and freezer neatly organised so that you are aware of what you already have when going for groceries. Keep related items together and store big containers behind smaller ones to make everything visible.

Check your fridge for maximum efficiency and set the right temperature. Learn proper ways to store certain products like fruits and veggies because storing them in the right way will make a huge difference in their longevity.

If you have frozen food, always remember to periodically go through your freezer and eat everything in there before getting more. You can also make a list of all the items in your freezer and place it on the freezer door. Cross out the foods as you consume them so that you know what’s left and what needs to be bought.

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