Though eating healthy can do wonders for your body, it can take a toll on your budget. If you are counting cash, just one trip to your local organic food store can burn a hole in your pocket. But healthy doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. Healthy and budget-friendly ingredients are not always over-priced and the recipes don’t have to be detailed or complicated. Your dream of a fully stocked fridge, brimming with fresh, high-quality nutritious foods is not far away with these expert-approved strategies. Follow these to get healthy without compensating your budget.
Scavenge what’s already there
Before you head out to the grocery store, take a good look at what’s already in your fridge. This ensures that you don’t end up buying something that you already have lying in your fridge and it doesn’t go to waste. When you can’t find the packet of chia seeds when you are cooking, it might just mean that it’s been pushed to the back of the fridge or pantry. For this reason, Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D.N., nutrition expert and author of Eating in Color recommends that you go through your fridge weekly and your pantry at least once a month. “Throw out or compost what’s gone bad and move the items that need to be used up to the front, where you can see them.”
Load up on frozen foods
The Journal of Food Composition and Analysis says that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh ones. Frozen food is great because the produce is picked at the peak of ripeness and the process of freezing it locks in the nutrients. It’s also great when you are cooking just for yourself. Instead of prepping the entire bag of broccoli at once, you can just use what you’re going to eat and pop the rest back in the freezer. Frozen fruits and vegetables can last up to eight months in the freezer, and meats like chicken and turkey can last up to a year.
Bulk it up
Buying non-perishable groceries in large quantities can save you a lot of money and time frequenting your local departmental store. If you live in a metro then there are many websites that offer bulk orders at wholesale prices.You can also try cooking in bulk and freeze your meals. Erin Palinski-Wade, R.D.N. and author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies, suggests that buying food in large quantities and cook batches of meals like soups and stews and freeze the remaining portions for another day. She adds further by saying,”Not only does this help with meal prep and save you time in the kitchen, but it can keep costs down.
Opt for plant proteins
Being a regular gym goer means you need to get your daily fix of protein to build and maintain lean muscle. But this can affect your budget tremendously if you are opting for animal proteins such as beef, chicken, and fish. Instead try and get your protein from plant-based sources which are not only more affordable than meats but can also be an easy way to improve your body weight and cardiovascular health. They also have fewer calories and are a great source of fiber, which will help you feel full longer. This doesn’t mean that you have to cut out meat completely, but you can occasionally swap out your fish fillet for a serving of beans and lentils.
Opting for seasonal foods instead of your favorite fruits and veggies gives you an opportunity to try out new foods. Additionally, out-of-the-season foods will be more expensive since they’ll have to be imported from other places.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to shop locally and eat with the seasons. Instead of heading to your regular departmental store, try checking with your local farmer’s market whenever possible.
Plan your meals
While it’s okay to occasionally reach out for an energy bar or packet of soya chips, try not to purchase groceries that you don’t really need. Falling into this trap will cause you to spend more than you budgeted for and leads you to purchase foods that necessarily contribute towards a balanced meal. Creating a weakly plan will help you figure out what you need to have and when. In most cases, you might just need to plan three meals a week and shop for the recipes you will be cooking for. Stock up on ingredients such as nuts, cheese, and milk because they can double up as snacks and can also be used as ingredients for your weekly recipes.