Most people want to be healthy, especially when it comes to eating. But putting that into practice can be a bit hard, since food that's good for you also tends to cost more.
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Try the 10 following tips to eat more nutritious, healthier food without blowing up your budget.
1. Figure Out Your Values
To buy healthier food without going over budget, you will have to make some small sacrifices. It helps if you know what you value so you can figure out where to skimp and where to splurge a little.
If you're not bothered by a bit of inconvenience, for example, you can buy organic whole celery instead of the pre-cut sticks and just cut it yourself.
Grass-fed meat is more expensive, so if you can cut down on meat here or there and not feel as if you're missing out, that's another way you can save.
Really consider what you can live without and what you can't, and make your cuts and must-have lists from there.
2. Go With Whole Foods
Eating whole foods, which are items you can find in nature, such as veggies, fruits, meat and whole grains, is simple and affordable.
Eating whole foods does involve planning and cooking, since you won't have items with set expiration dates, but the cooking is easy to learn, and you'll benefit in terms of your health and your wallet.
Check out online cooking videos and tutorials if you're not yet confident in the kitchen but want to be.
3. Store Food Correctly
Nothing is more annoying than being excited at the prospect of making a meal only to realize, that some of your ingredients have spoiled already.
According to Feeding America, people in the US waste about 70 billion pounds of food a year, and some of that waste comes from simply not storing the food properly.
Brush up on your food storage knowledge so you know how to make your food last as long as possible.
4. Get The Right Equipment
Investing in a few items now will help you eat better and save money over time. A slow cooker, for instance, can help make less expensive meat cuts taste better, and it will help simplify your prep.
Resealable food storage containers can keep leftovers alive longer, and it's even more convenient if you get the ones that can go from your freezer to your microwave.
If you don't mind projects, you can get canning items or dehydrators to preserve fresh foods yourself.
Try finding a used appliance at a garage sale if you've never tried any of this before just in case it doesn't work out. You can always buy a better model later, once you're sure that you want to continue.
5. Look For Nutrient-Rich Foods
While iceberg lettuce is usually less expensive than spinach, it provides very little in the way of nutrition.
Get more for your money by getting nutrient-rich, calorie-dense foods when you can. This will help you eat less while still eating healthy and feeling full.
Consider items such as canned fatty fishes and vegetables such as broccoli and kale. If you're not certain what is ideal and what is best left on the shelf, try whole food forums and social media groups for some tips.
6. Start A Garden
Gardening isn't as hard as you may think. You can grow some vegetables, fruits and herbs in a pot, even if you live in an apartment.
Basil, tomatoes and even small onions can be easily grown, and you'll get the satisfaction of benefiting directly from your work.
If you're bad at remembering to water plants, invest in a simple water aid like a water globe to make it less likely that your plants will die from thirst.
7. Go Back To The Basics
Going back to more basic things will benefit your diet, and it goes beyond getting into whole foods. Pick a simple cooking fat for the majority of your dishes, such as olive or canola oil.
Use basic spices, such as pepper and salt, instead of spending extra on exotic herbs and spices you may never use.
Get familiar with the standards of fruits and vegetables, as that can save you money. Green bell peppers, for example, tend to be cheaper than other colors.
Don't forget your drinks, too; if you're buying a lot of soda while trying to eat more healthy, you may be a little off course.
Make water your main beverage, and buy sugary drinks and milk in small amounts only.
8. Learn To Love Leftovers
One easy way to eat cheaply and more healthy is by cooking a larger meal or two at the start of your week and having the leftovers later.
Of course, this can get boring fast, especially if you're only cooking for yourself, so learn how to re-purpose your leftovers too.
You can roast a chicken at the start of your week, for example, and use that chicken over the week in different meals, such as for a sandwich, on a salad or in a stir fry.
Even the carcass can be used to make chicken broth.
Take a closer look at the different ways you can create meals around your leftovers so you're both satisfied and frugal.
9. Use Your Freezer
Buying mostly whole foods doesn't mean all your meals have to be complicated. You can store vegetables and fruits that you can't use right away in your freezer, so they're ready when you need them.
This reduces food waste and will give you quick meal options that didn't come out of your grocer's TV dinner selection.
If you like frozen lasagna, for example, you can make your own and store it in the freezer for later. If you're a stir fry fan, you can make a kit of your own using fresh ingredients.
Many times, frozen proteins and veggies are less expensive than their fresh counterparts but just about as nutritious.
Do make sure you store all your frozen foods properly, as freezer burn can ruin your meals.
10. Get Planning
Planning ahead is the most important thing when it comes to eating healthy food without going way over budget.
When you plan ahead, you know what meals you're going to cook, so you are able to buy only what you need and use all the ingredients before they go bad.
Mapping out meals in advance also means shopping at the right places, looking for coupons and doing some research.
When you're more prepared, you'll be better able to hit your goals, and this is true for affordable healthy eating and many other things in life.
Start eating better today and keep your food budget in line by using the tips above.
Not only will you feel better, but you'll also be more likely to stick to your new lifestyle choices because they are not draining your bank account!