The rise of health food stores and an increased focus on sensible eating has led to a lot of premium nutrition choices at premium prices: Meat from well-treated farm animals and pre-packaged meals can send grocery bills skyrocketing. Fortunately, not everything good for your body has to be expensive. Check out these 15 tips for eating well on a budget.
1. THINK FROZEN
Fresh vegetables cutting into your spending limits? You might find that going for frozen broccoli, peas, and other produce offers savings in both the long and short term. You won’t have to let any unused fresh food go to waste—it’ll be ready in the freezer, and just as nutritious as if it were bought that day.
2. BULK UP ON SHRIMP
Frozen shrimp is inexpensive and can be prepared in an endless number of ways, from simple pasta dishes to grilled meals and even soups. Low in calories, it’s also a great source of muscle-building protein.
3. BROWN RICE GOES WITH EVERYTHING
Including your pocket change. A one-pound bag could run you less than $2, enough to make ten servings of whole grains to pair with your favorite protein.
4. TUNA IS YOUR FRIEND
While one should always adhere to the FDA’s recommendations on eating fish—pregnant women and children especially—light canned tuna makes an excellent meal for pennies per serving. Paired with pasta, on bread, or in a salad, it’s chock-full of lean protein.
5. USE A SLOW COOKER
Crock pots can allow tougher and less expensive cuts of meat to tenderize over a period of hours, allowing for a flavorful meal without the expense of premium options. Cooking a large batch of stew also makes for a few days’ worth of leftovers.
6. OPT FOR ECONOMICAL FRUITS
You may find that pears, bananas, and watermelon are some of the more reasonably-priced fresh fruits in the aisles. They’re also incredibly versatile: use them in smoothies, salads, or as a snack.
While instant oatmeal is convenient, it’s also loaded with sugar and other additives. Opt for uncooked oats instead, which can be bought in bulk and flavored with inexpensive additions like bananas, cinnamon, or peanut butter.
8. CONSIDER POWDERED MILK
It’s easily substituted for “real,” perishable milk in many recipes and can be handy in a pantry.
9. GO TO A FARMER’S MARKET
Grocers are in business to make a profit. Understandable, but you can cut out the retail component by going straight to the source. Farmer’s markets can be found in most regions and offer fresh produce at reasonable prices.
10. LOOK DOWN
Supermarkets are one big psychology experiment, laid out to maximize your spending. Typically, the priciest brands of pasta, cereal, and other staples are at eye level, while comparable options are a few shelves below.
11. BEAN IT
Canned or dried beans provide some of the best value-to-nutrition ratios of any food in stores. Use them in salads and soups for an added protein boost.
12. SPLIT IT
There’s no way you’re actually going to finish that jar of pink Himalayan salt on your own. For expensive items like spices and seasonings, you may want to find a friend or relative to go in with you and split the cost.
13. AVOID BAGGED LETTUCE
It always comes with a convenience fee. Opt for a head of lettuce instead and spend a few minutes chopping it up yourself.
14. COOK IN BATCHES
Stocking up on inexpensive raw food like chicken breasts and then devoting a couple of hours to cooking it can be an easy way to have meals ready during the week. You’ll get the benefit of budget planning with the convenience of packaged food.
15. PLANT SOMETHING
Growing your own tomatoes and peppers is an excellent way to save money while guaranteeing you’re getting the freshest produce around.