Healthy Eating on a Budget
Working full-time in addition to running a small business is time-consuming,
so planning my shopping trips is critical to time management, which, in the
long run is best for my physical and mental health. I have found the best
options for SoCal natives eating for wellness on a budget by shopping at
Walmart, Costco, Aldi, Vons, Food 4 Less, and Trader Joe’s.
Eating healthy is essential for maintaining good health and preventing
chronic illnesses. However, many people think that eating healthy is
expensive and not affordable. That doesn’t have to be the case, as there are
many ways to eat healthy on a budget. This blog post will discuss some tips
for healthy eating on a budget.
Plan your meals
One of the best ways to eat healthy on a budgetis to plan your meals ahead
of time. Plan your weekly meals, make a grocery list, and stick to it. This will
help you avoid impulse buys and reduce food waste.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk can save you money in the long run. Look for bulk bins at your
local grocery store or buy in bulk online. You can buy staples like rice, beans,
nuts, and seeds in bulk, which can be used in many recipes.
But be careful to avoid getting lured into a bulk purchase that does not suit
your needs. If you throw it away, that is not only a waste of money but also
harmful to the environment, so be a smart shopper.
Shop for seasonal produce
Buying produce that is in season can save you money. Seasonal produce is often cheaper than out-of-season produce and tastes better. Check out your local farmer’s market for fresh, seasonal produce. However, frozen is an excellent option. See my tips below for more info.
- Vegetables: Fresh is great, but if you do not plan to use them within 3-4 days, you increase your chances of food waste, which is bad for the budget and the environment. Bell peppers and onions tend to last longer when fresh. I buy many vegetables in the frozen section to avoid waste and save money. They are just as nutritious as fresh without the waste. Frozen veggie food hack. Don’t waste your money on the frozen veggies in ready-steam bags; buy the nonsteam frozen options, put your desired serving in a zip lock baggie, and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes. Put a bit of butter and season to taste when it cools off. I love Tajin on my steamed veggies for a citrusy kick.
- Fruit: is best fresh. Frozen can be used in making sauces or smoothies. You can freeze your fresh fruit before it spoils for future use in smoothies. Here’s a link to Betty Crocker for freezing tips: https://www.bettycrocker.com/menus-holidays-parties/mhplibrary/seasonal-ideas/how-to-freeze-fresh-fruit
Cook at home
Cooking at home is one of the best ways to eat healthy on a budget. Eating out
can be expensive, and you never know what ingredients are used. Cooking at
home allows you to control the ingredients and portion sizes.
Use meat as a flavoring
Meat can be expensive, so try using it as a flavoring instead of the main
ingredient. You can add a small amount of meat to a dish for flavor and use
plant-based protein sources like beans, lentils, and tofu as the main
ingredient. Here are some tips for animal protein sources.
- Pork: there are always cuts on sale between $.99 and $1.50/lb.
This can be made into stews, meat for tacos, egg scrambles,
burritos, or burrito bowls.
- Chicken: Boneless skinless chicken breast is $2.59/lb at Aldi.
Pound out some chicken breast, season, sear, and finish in the
oven for on-the-go chicken breast to top a salad with, make tacos,
unbreaded orange chicken, or just by itself with a side of rice and
- Beef: What can I say about beef other than that this protein is up
in price by almost 50%, so keep your eyes peeled for what fits
your budget? I draw the line on what I will pay for proteins at
$4.50/lb. You will find various cuts on sale meeting this price. You
just have to look for it
- Seafood: Crazy expensive, and I keep my eyes on the sales, but
even the sales are out of my range most weeks.
- Various Sausages: Aldi is my go-to when nothing is on sale. They
almost always have bratwurst or knackwurst on sale for a quick
weekday meal of sausage and peppers over rice.
Buy generic brands
Generic brands can be just as good as name-brand products and are often
cheaper. Look for generic brands for staples like flour, sugar, and canned
Don’t let leftovers go to waste. Freeze them for later use. You can freeze
leftover soups, stews, and casseroles for a quick and easy meal later.
Eating healthy on a budget is possible. By planning your meals, buying in bulk,
shopping for seasonal produce, cooking at home, using meat as a flavoring,
buying generic brands, and freezing leftovers, you can save money and eat
healthy at the same time.
Remember, planning is key to sticking to a budget you can afford while
reducing food waste and being good for our planet.
Kelly Alarcon, BSNS, California State University, Long Beach, is passionate about
showing others the path to wellness through nutrition while reducing hunger and
food waste. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/