Eating Healthy on a Budget: Part 1
Is it possible to eat healthy on a budget? Absolutely! In fact, it’s cheaper than eating fast food or processed food. How do I know? I’ve been there. I was a young mother trying to feed a family of four on a tight budget that just seemed to get tighter and tighter. It didn’t matter that we were buying the cheap, generic brands of packaged food, we were still running out of money every month.I had a toddler and two adults to feed and I was breastfeeding, so I needed extra nouri [...]
Is it possible to eat healthy on a budget?
Absolutely! In fact, it’s cheaper than eating fast food or processed food. How do I know? I’ve been there. I was a young mother trying to feed a family of four on a tight budget that just seemed to get tighter and tighter. It didn’t matter that we were buying the cheap, generic brands of packaged food, we were still running out of money every month.
I had a toddler and two adults to feed and I was breastfeeding, so I needed extra nourishment. On top of that, with two babies in the house we were spending soooo much money on diapers, wipes and laundry supplies (so much laundry).
In fact, I didn’t start cooking all of my food from scratch and DIYing my cleaning supplies because I was crunchy and trying to be healthy, I did it because that’s how I could afford to live. I am now grateful for the fact that our budget required us to live this way before I learned the health benefits of this lifestyle.
Don’t get overwhelmed by feeling like you have to do it all at once. That is an excellent way to fail. If you are currently living on a diet of all fast food and boxed dinners, then I don’t expect you to be organic, gluten-free, and perfectly healthy tomorrow, that would be ridiculous. At this point going from no vegetables to regular vegetables is a win. Do I believe that organic, local vegetables is a good goal to reach for? Absolutely. Are you doing it wrong if you start with non-organic vegetables? No!! Going from zero healthy, home cooked meals a week to one or two is a win. Baby steps are fine. As you keep doing those baby steps your health and energy will start to improve and you will be able to incorporate more and more healthy habits. So, just get started.
You have have have
to plan ahead. Especially when you’re first starting out.
Healthy cooking is a habit that takes time to build. You are working on breaking the habit of reaching for fast food or boxed food when you're hungry, AND forming the habit of cooking healthy food. Both of those take time, intention and planning.
The first thing to do is go out and get yourself some cookbooks and food magazines. I love food magazines because they give me so much variety. The important thing is to pick cookbooks that you are going to love. They don’t do you any good if they are just going to collect dust on your shelf. Also, think about your main hurdle to cooking healthy, because I promise there is a cookbook designed to help you with that. Are you single and think cooking for one is too hard and creates too many leftovers? There are cookbooks written specifically for singles and small households. Are you a busy professional? Get a cookbook with quick, easy to execute recipes.
Google and Pinterest are you friends. The internet is full of recipes of every kind. Enter “healthy fast recipe for one” in the google search bar and you will probably find articles like “50 healthy recipes for one or two”. Don’t forget Pinterest. Entire boards have been created with recipes that are designed to meet specific needs, so get on Pinterest and start following those boards.
Get out those cookbooks and magazines and pick 2-3 things that you would like to try.
Now, this is where planning REALLY helps your budget. Does your first recipe call for a few mushrooms? What are you going to do with the rest of the mushrooms in the carton? If you put two more recipes that call for mushrooms on your menu, then you have no waste, AND by doing this with all of your ingredients you will buy far fewer things at the store. In other words, if you are buying an ingredient for one dish, choose other dishes that will allow you to use up that ingredient before it spoils.
Plan for leftovers. Make extra and eat it as leftovers. I love to have leftovers as lunches for a few days because I don’t like giving a lot of time to making my lunch in the middle of the day.
Do you get bored with leftovers? I get it, if I’ve had eggs for breakfast three days in a row and there is nothing else in the house for breakfast, I will skip breakfast rather than have eggs again (just being real here, none of us are perfect). I really do get it. Make a huge casserole or soup, then freeze it in small servings. That way you can pull it out in a month or two to eat it on a night you don’t want to cook. It’s healthy, it’s already made, and it’s not something you already ate this week.
Look at your menu and write down EVERYTHING you need to make for each meal. After you've written each item down you can go through and cross off anything you already have. Now you have your shopping list.
Always start with your produce.You’ll be surprised at how much produce you can fit in your basket without spending a ton of money, especially if you buy produce that is currently in season. I remember one
time I was told our money issues were caused by the fact that I was buying so much fresh, organic produce. So I added up how much money was spent at the grocery store that month AND how much of it was produce. Guess what. The produce was a TINY percentage of the grocery budget. Also, our grocery spending was a tiny percentage of the overall budget because I had gotten so good at practicing these tools. (they really do work)
Buy bulk. Purchase a large bag of plain rice instead of the individual boxes, get dried beans instead of canned, chicken base instead of chicken broth (or better yet, make your own chicken broth). One of the main benefits of boxed rice and canned beans is that they are pre-seasoned, but you can easily season them yourself and the result is far less expensive, just as tasty, and considerably healthier. This takes a little more time and planning, but it also saves money.
A great way to get organic vegetables is to buy them frozen. Frozen vegetables are good quality, you end up with less waste, and you can find organic frozen vegetables in bulk at a great price at places like Costco.
I’m willing to bet you’ve heard, read or even tried some of this before, but just couldn’t make it stick. We are not designed to walk through this life alone, we are designed for community.
Get some girlfriends together, and start doing this as a group. You can swap recipes, give each other tips on what’s working, and even go shopping together sometimes. If you don’t like to cook for just yourself, then cook extra and trade it with friends. Some of my favorite memories are times when I was cooking with friends. I truly believe that a sense of community and tribe is something we need to succeed in this life.
You may be in a place where you know you need to make these changes. You can no longer ignore your health and you know you need to do something about it. But it still feels overwhelming and impossible. I want to help. I want you to succeed and have the health, energy and vitality to live a life that you love.
Please reach out to me for a FREE Health Essentials Assessment
. We will figure out exactly where you are sabotaging your health and how we can get you moving forward again.
Click here to schedule your assessment.
So that’s it for part 1 of Eating Healthy on a Budget. In part 2 I will share a piece of advice that I believe is the most important thing to remember when trying to work out your food budget. If you can take it heart and implement it, it willchange your life.