2020 has been a crazy year. The last few weeks have completely revolutionized the way we function. People are trying to be more and more health-conscious with every passing day. One of the most common questions I get asked these days is, “ How to eat healthy when I am trying to live frugally on a tight budget?” Well, here are some time-tested and proven tips and tricks to help you live a super healthy life without burning a hole in your pocket.
Track your grocery spends, meal patterns, and food wastage if any: Before you even start to plan, it is important that you analyze your lifestyle. Look at the good parts and the bad. Know your monthly spending, and understand where you’re splurging. It’ll give you a better idea of what areas need to be worked on.
Survey your kitchen cabinets and the fridge shelves every once in a while: It’ll make sure you avoid buying stuff you already have. Also, it is better to know the products which are closer to the expiry date. You can plan your meals accordingly and use those ingredients well in time.
Chalk down your weekly meal plans: Meal planning saves you time, money, energy, and unnecessary trips to the grocery store. Once you have a rough meal plan in mind, you can prep better, shop for the right ingredients, and avoid last-minute fiascos. Now meal planning can get pretty overwhelming if you’re just starting out. In that case, pick easy and simple recipes for the first few days. You can gradually add the fancy ones to the list.
Enter the store with a grocery list and stick to it: Once you start meal planning you’ll have a very clear idea of what ingredients you need. Visit only the aisles that you’ve already planned. That way, you won’t see extra stuff, and you won’t buy extra stuff.
Reduce eating out and stop relying on the takeaway meals: Eating out not only comes with a hefty price tag but is less nutritious than what you can make at home. When you cook at home you get to have the complete portion control. You can choose to add more veggies, replace unhealthy fats with healthier options, add more lean proteins, and so much more.
Opt for local and seasonal foods: Seasonal produce is always fresher, nutrition-laden, and naturally contains lesser preservatives. The local plants get the exact weather conditions for their growth and in turn bear tastier fruits and vegetables. Also, the local produce can easily reach your doorstep from the farm; which makes them environment friendly. Besides, no shipping costs so there will be some savings too!
Don’t get carried away during sales: The word ‘sale’ has a very profound effect on the buyer’s mind. That is when the most determined of the people slip and end up buying unplanned stuff. Sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes it’s plain junk, and at times, it’s just an extra ingredient you hardly use. So before you grab the sale goodies, make sure you know a few recipes that will accommodate the ingredient. Also, do check its manufacturing and the expiry dates. You know want to end up with something which is just about to expire.
Buy in bulk, but do not overstock: Since we’re talking about being healthy on a tight budget, how can we overlook the benefits of bulk shopping? It can work really well if implemented properly. However, here are a few questions to ask yourself before bulk buying. “Do I need so much? If not, can I share half of it with a friend or a neighbor? Can I store this ingredient for long or will it perish?” If it still makes sense buying that big box, go ahead and save yourself some money!!
Maintain a food journal: Journaling is one of my favorite ways to track my meals and exercise schedules. Writing down about your dietary habits will help you understand your eating patterns and provide additional information on the areas that need attention.
Opt for generic brands: There are some brands more expensive than the others. It is quite possible that these pricey brands could be offering better products, maybe organic, of better quality or more fresh than the rest. But sometimes the generic products are equally good and cost just a fraction of the premium brands. So, compare both the items, maybe try small quantities of both, and then decide for yourself.
Repurpose the leftovers: We can try to cook optimally to minimize any kind of food wastage. And yet, there will be days when there’ll be a significant quantity of leftover food. Think of those leftovers as ready ingredients to be used for the next meal. The key is to store this food smartly. Keep it on the eye-level shelves, in good quality glass containers. Glass storage containers are reusable, sustainable, and let you see what’s inside. You can get creative and explore a little on your own, or simply google some kitchen sink recipes.
Speak with a professional: Setting health goals, especially the long term ones can be challenging. A wellness coach can guide you through the process, and help you achieve the desired results. Also, having a coach makes you accountable. When there is a professional to check on you at regular intervals, it is difficult to drift away from your plans.