If you've ever said, "Eating healthy is more expensive!", you might be right. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that the healthiest diets cost $1.50 more per day than unhealthy diets. To some, $1.50 per day doesn't seem like a whole lot. But for those with lower incomes struggling to make ends meet, $1.50 a day can make a big difference.
If cost is coming between you and eating healthy, we are here to help with some awesome tips on how to eat healthy on a budget.
#1. Meal Plan and Make a List
Have you ever walked into a grocery store with no plan? You might end up throwing a bunch of random stuff into your cart hoping for the best. But by the end of the week, many of your groceries are still in your fridge and starting to go bad. When you take a few minutes to plan your meals and make a list, you ensure that you only buy what you need and at the end of the week, nothing will go to waste.
#2. But Before Your Start Meal Planning, Look For Sales and Don't Be Afraid of Marked Down Produce
A lot of grocery stores have apps that allow you to see what's on sale from week-to-week so check those out before you start your meal planning. Also, each grocery store usually has a shelf of foods that are extremely discounted as they are reaching their expiry. Don't be afraid! If you are going to eat them up within the next few days, keep that $5 in your pocket and take the deal! Last week I scored a $10 bag of perfectly good grapes for just $2!
#3. Stop And Think Before You Hit the Grocery Store (Again)
Ever find yourself putting away a bag of groceries only to realize that you probably could have made a complete meal with the stuff that is already in you fridge? If you've been smart with your meal planning and shopping, you should only need to hit the grocery store one or two times a week. So before you make another trip, get in the habit of first asking yourself if it is really necessary.
#4. Keep An Herb Garden
A $2.99 bunch of basil or parsley purchased at the grocery store adds up over time! Instead, grab yourself some herb plants and start your very own herb garden. We keep parsley, basil, mint and dill plants here at That Clean Life HQ, and we never have to purchase herbs throughout the summer months. (We're still figuring out how to keep them alive in the house throughout the winter. Any tips?)
#5. Eat Legumes as Protein
Meat can be expensive. But protein is a must, so consider non-animal sources like lentils, chickpeas and beans. You can check out a full round-up of our favourite non-animal protein sources here (hemp seeds and shelled edamame are two of our favourites).
#6. Make Your Own Nut Butter
It's no secret that nut butter is hella-expensive. Especially if you go through it as fast as we do. Save some of your cold hard cash by buying your nuts in bulk and making your own homemade nut butter. Here's how:
#7. Buy Frozen Fruit & Vegetables
Some fresh fruit (yes I'm looking at you berries!) can be silly expensive. So instead of buying it fresh, buy it frozen so you can get more bang for your buck! Some of our favourite frozen fruits and vegetables are mixed berries, mango, green peas and shelled edamame. Not only is it cheaper but if we don't eat it up that week, we don't have to worry about it going to waste.
#8. Utilize Your Freezer
We've said it once and I'll say it again: Your freezer is probably the most under-estimated, under-appreciated, and overlooked appliance in your kitchen. Learn what foods freeze well, freeze produce before it goes bad, label all the things and keep a freezer inventory so you always know what you have on hand. Here is a complete breakdown of how to run your freezer like a boss so you can save a ton of money.
#9. Buy Local
Consider buying fruits, vegetables, meats and eggs from local farmers. When you buy local, in-season foods are generally cheaper and travel costs are minimized. And hey, if you find a really great deal - buy extra and freeze it!
#10. Eat and Repurpose Leftovers
STOP! Do not scrape those leftovers into the garbage. Toss them in a container and eat them tomorrow. There are two things that help us ensure our leftovers always get eaten. The first is having proper containers on hand. I swear by our stackable glass pyrex dishes. The second is getting creative with the way you use leftovers because let's be real, 1-day old soggy stir fry isn't so awesome. Turn leftover veggies into a soup or roll up your leftover salad in a wrap.
#11. Buy in Bulk
It's no secret buying in bulk can save you money. A lot of health food stores have a bulk food section where you can stock up on organic goodness likes nuts and spices for less. Bulk Barn is also an awesome go-to.
#12. Get the Customer Card
Most grocery stores now have a points card that you can use for free groceries. I'm a big fan of collecting PC Points. I've earned close to $100 in free groceries over the last year!
#13. Stop Buying Expensive Drinks
This one is simple: save money by sticking to water. Easy peasy.
#14. Focus on Inexpensive Fruits & Vegetables
Some fruits and vegetables are more expensive than others. Our favourite vegetables that are cheap and go a long way are kale, spinach, cabbage and broccoli. Melons and bananas are also easy on the wallet but yield enough fruit to last for days.
#15. Stay Organized
And most importantly - stay organized! When your pantry, cupboards, fridge and freezer are organized, you are more likely to know exactly what you have on hand and avoid buying more stuff you don't need. If you need some inspiration on how to organize your pantry, we've given you a full run-down here.
What are your best tricks for eating healthy on a budget? Share your secrets with us in the comments below!