4 smart ways to eat healthy on a budget
Hello Fit Fam!
Welcome to another blog post! I took a poll as I usually do on Instagram to see which blog post y'all wanted posted this week and healthy eating on a budget was super popular! As a college student with absolutely no money, I completely understand the struggle of balancing proper nutrition with finances. We all want to fuel our bodies with the healthiest food possible, but a lot of times that can come at the expense of our wallets.
That doesn't have to be the case anymore!
Based on my personal experience with this struggle, I've put together a list of easy ways to still eat healthy while on a tight budget! We'll go through each method, why it will help you save, and how you can implement it to create a healthy lifestyle. If you're someone who is looking to eat clean but doesn't want to break the bank, then READ ON!
4 smart ways to eat healthy on a budget
Method #1: Buy Groceries in Bulk
What This Means: This may sound crazy, but instead of purchasing the exact amount of food you need for a single meal, try purchasing a BUNCH of food at one time from a wholesale store like Costco. This method can be especially useful for meat proteins and non-perishable foods.
Why You Save: Buying groceries in bulk from a wholesale store can seem daunting at first, but when you actually sit down and do the math, you'll see that you are spending WAY LESS for each item than you would if you bought it in a smaller quantity at your regular grocery store. Wholesalers sell their products in large quantities, but for a reduced price, meaning that in the end you will be getting more food at a lower cost. In addition to just looking at the price, buying in bulk also means grocery shopping less often and saving more money. For example, if you purchase oats in bulk, you not only save money in comparison to if you bought the same amount of oats from your regular grocery store, but you also don't have to buy oats for a while since you have such a large quantity. And since oats don't go bad, you also avoid wasting food and thus wasting money.
Make it Healthy: Buying in bulk gives you the opportunity to always have healthy food options on-hand. The most important aspect of buying food in bulk is the actual grocery shopping. If you're in the proper mindset of eating well while shopping and you only purchase clean foods, then you'll ultimately be surrounded by a bunch clean foods at home for a whiiiile. Buying in bulk also allows you to portion out your perishables (like meat proteins) and freeze them for a later date.
How to Implement: Make a grocery list of some clean foods (see my Nutrition Highlight on my Instagram for examples) and head to your local wholesale. This first trip will likely be a bit pricey, but it will all even out when you don't have to re-buy any of these items for a while. Once you've shopped for your foods, use a food scale (or just eyeball) to portion out your foods. Freeze down any excess food (which will be a lot!) for later and make sure you label so you know what's what. Now you're all set! If you're in need of a healthy dinner, just pop a frozen serving of salmon into the fridge the night before you want to eat it (or you can defrost via the microwave the day of!) and cook up some brown rice from your stocks! Using this method ensures that you'll always have a healthy meal to cook up on-hand when you need it.
Method #2: Cook Meals in Bulk
What This Means: Cooking your meals in bulk simply means cooking a lot of your food at a single time. This can take the form of meal prep: sitting down, planning out (some or all of) your meals for a few days out, and then cooking these meals on a single day. Or it can take the form of cooking a single meal in bulk: ie. making a large batch of soup that yields 8 servings.
Why You Save: Cooking your meals in bulk can be super beneficial for the bank for a few reasons. First, it gives you the opportunity to use and cook foods that may perish otherwise. We all know that wasted food is wasted money, so avoiding wasted food is a huge bonus. This method can also yield a bunch of pre-made meals from a single batch of ingredients, giving you more bang for your buck!
Make it Healthy: Similar to buying in bulk, cooking in bulk makes eating healthy THAT much easier. You now have pre-made and pre-cooked healthy meals that are ready to eat at the tap of a microwave button! This leaves very little room for excuses about the time and difficulty it takes to eat well.
How to Implement: After you've returned from the store (hopefully buying in bulk!), decide on the meals that you'd like to have for the next few days. You don't have to plan out every single meal, but maybe you know you really enjoy turkey chili so you'll make a large batch of that to have for lunch Monday and for dinner Wednesday. Set aside a time (usually a weekend is best), to cook the meals that you've decided to prep for. Store them in containers either in the freezer or in the fridge, depending on when you plan to eat them, and just heat up the meals when you're ready to eat!
Method #3: Repurpose Meals
What This Means: This method is probably my favorite out of them all, and I feel that it is so underrated! Repurposing your meals simply means using the same ingredients in different combinations or with different spices to create a completely new dish!
Why You Save: Repurposing your meals is the epitome of getting more bang for your buck! When using this method, you don't waste any part of the food that you buy. You're able to stretch out the same ingredients into more meals, which means you don't have to go back to the store as often, which means you're spending less money on groceries as a whole!
Make it Healthy: This method is a great way to spice up your diet in a healthy way! Remember that healthy does not have to mean boring. Take this opportunity to experiment with some different spices, cooking techniques, and dishes to add some flavorful variety into your diet. You'll be surprised at how good you can make the same ingredients taste when they're simply cooked or combined in different ways.
How to Implement: You want to buy ingredients that are versatile. I feel that this method is best illustrated by an example, so here we go! Let's say you go to the store and purchase a full chicken, whole grain tortillas, brown rice, lettuce, tomato, onion, and some other veggies. You cook the full chicken, and decide to have a chicken burrito on Monday for dinner. You then remember this awesome blog post and realize you can repurpose this whole meal to eat again on Tuesday! So Tuesday for lunch, you decide to have a chicken salad using almost all of the same ingredients from Monday, but simply seasoned and combined differently. Wednesday rolls around and you still have a bit of chicken left over, so you decide to have chicken legs, brown rice, and veggies for dinner. That's 3 meals from a single chicken and some produce! GOLDEN. METHOD.
Method #4: Use Frozen Fruits + Veggies
What This Means: Fresh fruits and vegetables are great, but they can go bad quickly and end up being a waste of money. If you're someone who finds themselves always throwing away produce, then try purchasing frozen versions of your favorite fruits and veggies (bonus points if you purchase in bulk!)
Why You Save: You'll definitely save big on wasted money due to throwing away old produce, but you also won't have to buy produce as often because frozen fruits and veggies have no expiration date! Keep them in your freezer for as long as you'd like!
Make it Healthy: I personally think it's so much easier to incorporate vegetables into your diet when all you need to do is reheat them to eat. However, frozen produce is also super versatile, and can be used in recipes similar to fresh produce. Frozen fruits and veggies are also a great money saver for making protein shakes or smoothies.
How to Implement: I'd recommend just buying frozen versions of your favorite fruits and veggies! Buying in bulk will be the ultimate money saver since frozen produce has a long freezer-life, and then you'll have an endless reservoir of fruits and veggies to add to your meals! You can either defrost via microwave, by incorporating them into dishes, or my leaving them in the fridge for a few hours.
Alright there we have it! 4 simple ways to help you eat well when your budget is tight! I have used every single one of these methods and loved them, so I hope you can try some out and love them too! Let me know if you have any questions (Instagram DM is the best way to reach me). Sending you lots of good vibes this week! Keep working toward your goals!