Eating healthy is essential for a long and productive life. It can also save you thousands of dollars in medical costs. Doctor’s visits, surgeries, and medications can eat away at your budget even if you have stellar insurance.
However, a common complaint among people who are trying to clean up their diets is that healthy food is expensive. If you include the cost of healthcare, eating healthy is a bargain. Nevertheless, if you’re used to choosing dinner from the dollar menu at McDonald’s, organic vegetables can be a shock to the wallet.
So, if you’re trying to clean up your diet, but you’re also on a budget, be encouraged! I feel you! Organic, grass-fed beef is definitely more expensive than a can of Spam. But there is a middle ground! Your diet can be very healthy, even if it’s not perfect.
Don’t be afraid of frozen vegetables. No one wants to throw five dollars down the drain on a bag of vegetables they forgot to eat. So, buy frozen veggies if it’s easier on your budget and schedule. Frozen vegetables are picked fresh and frozen right away, so much of the nutrients are retained. And, more importantly, if you know you will eat them because they’re already chopped and won’t go bad, buy them! You will still be getting most of the nutrients and your wallet will thank you.
Don’t be afraid of canned meats like tuna packed in water ($1.69 at Trader Joe’s for 2 servings) and canned sardines (less than $2.00). Tofu is a great source of protein and is usually only two or three dollars. Regular milk is cheaper than non-dairy milk. Or, if you are lactose intolerant, you can buy the smaller boxes of almond milk that are usually around $2.00. You can mix these with water in recipes, or for protein shakes.
Trader Joe’s also has protein powder that is relatively inexpensive, especially if you only drink a serving a day. Their unflavored pea protein is about $12.00 and can last all month. Mix a scoop or two into some milk or water for a little extra muscle-building protein. Trader Joe’s has 80% lean ground beef that is about $4.00, and raw cheddar cheese is around $3.50.
I don’t recommend white flour foods, but, hey – sometimes you have to do it if the budget gets really lean. You can make white rice a little healthier by cooking it in bone, beef, or chicken broth and piling vegetables on top. Flour tortillas are high in calories and low on nutrients, but paired with a can of black beans (99 cents at Trader Joe’s) and some veggies, you can still make yourself a healthy little filling burrito in under 5 minutes.
Peanut butter, raw oats, and eggs are also fairly low-priced staples to have on hand for quick, healthy meals. Coconut oil is expensive, so you can cut back on the need for oil by using parchment paper when you bake. It provides a non-stick surface and allows you to oven fry or bake foods without oil. Just a quick spray of cooking spray on top can help the items get brown without butter or oil.
And, finally, intermittent fasting and OMAD (eating one meal a day) are excellent ways to eat well and keep costs down. If you’re only eating once a day, or only during certain hours of the day, you will naturally eat less. This will show up as more money in your bank account for other things!
I hope some of these tips are helpful. I also hope your creative juices flowing so you can come up with other ways to eat well on a budget. Don’t let a lack of funds stand in the way of a healthy body.
Peace and love,