It’s possible to EAT WELL and get healthier, even on a tight budget. Like anything else when you plan you succeed but when you fail to plan you plan to fail.
Here are 13 tips, tricks, and sites to help you eat well without breaking the bank:
Make a plan and shop for it. Take the weekend to choose your meals (or proteins), shop for the foods and prep the foods. If you complete a basic prep on Sunday, the food should last until Wednesday then you just need to fill in. Once a month, take inventory of pantry and kitchen staples you’re low on and replenish.
Make a grocery list. There’s really no better way to stay organized and avoid buying items you don’t need. Get in the habit of making a grocery list and sticking to it. Use apps like Yummly or Zipongo to make the process automated, simple and price friendly. These apps have recipes, shopping lists and best places to buy the foods according to the circulars.
Rebate apps. Shopping through some of the rebate apps pays you back for buying what you would’ve bought anyway. Ebates often has sales and money back in stores and online. Try out these two rebate apps: Ebates or ibotta
Shop the local farmers markets and eat what’s in-season. Ever notice how expensive berries and asparagus are in the winter but drop 50% in spring or summer? When you eat in season, you get the freshest foods possible for the best prices. Learn which veggies and fruits are in season, and plan your meals with local choices. It will even make you feel healthier to know you’re choosing to eat well.
Shop Online. There are many sites now where you can buy healthy foods at a deep discount. Shop at Thrive Market for deep discounts on items you’re buying at full price now. Use this link for 15% off your first order and a gift. You can also use food delivery services, which deliver everything you need in perfect portions with recipe cards. Three of my favorites sites are Green Chef with organic and seasonal dishes, which will give you your first 4 meals free with this link, Blue Apron and Terra’s Kitchen.
Use the leftovers. Cook once and eat twice. Throw last night’s steak into your omelet or add the extra veggies into it. Have extra fruit? Throw it in a blender for a smoothie and take your chicken cutlets and turn them into grilled chicken parmesan. Use the leftover shrimp in an Asian rice noodle dish or make a quesadilla.
Supplement with frozen foods. Believe it or not, frozen fruits and veggies are still just as nutritious since most are flash frozen, preserving the nutrients. Plus, frozen produce doesn’t contain the same salt and sugars as canned foods and it’s in safer packaging. Frozen produce can be less expensive than out of season fresh produce and you can eat it year round.
Purchase your meat from a CSA, farmers market or local producer. Even Whole Foods usually runs good sales on meats or you could use a website like US Wellness Meats. Stores like Wal-Mart, Target and Trader Joes have made grass fed meats affordable.
Buy the food in its natural state rather than packaged. If you buy salad ingredients rather than bagged salads you get more for your money. But there is a tradeoff if time is a barrier to eating healthy. Shred your own cheese rather than buying bagged cheese and make tuna fish from a can instead of getting it at the deli. You need to weight cost and time to decide what’s more important to you.
Grow some food. Even city dwellers can grow herbs or tomatoes in pots. Taking care of plants that actually give back to you is rewarding. Grow some organic herbs like basil, cilantro, and rosemary. It’s the cheapest – and most satisfying – way to get your greens. Click here to check out the tower garden that is simple to grow
Shop the perimeter of the store. The freshest whole foods are on the outside of the store. Buy more from the perimeter than the aisles to eat well for less money. Make sure you store the food properly so it lasts longer, allowing you not to throw money down the drain and to utilize the leftovers.
Consider buying generic brands, the store brands you see for sale are made by the same manufacturers and self-labeled. So, when you do venture into the middle aisles, lose the mindset that brands are best.
Try a new routine. Mix up your food shopping and buy foods where you get the most bang for your buck. Using services like Pea Pod or Fresh Express allow you to stay within your budget, eat well and save time going to the store and order what you want easily, and have it delivered to your door. I often buy foods all over the place, example- the fruit is freshest at farmers markets and certain smaller markets, while I get the best deals on most healthy foods and organics at Thrive Market (Online service) This link saves you 15% off first order and gives you a gift. You’ll thank me for this suggestion.
Cooking more meals at home will make staying healthy easier and it’s fun. Open up a bottle of wine with someone you love and cook away. Invest in a cookbook or two, use the apps I spoke about Yummly or Zipongo and be creative. Leave some comments and let me know what worked out best for you, what apps you like and your opinion of Thrive Market.
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