People assume that eating a healthy diet is not possible because it is expensive; however, it is not true. Natural and organic foods are expensive, but the government provide subsidies on various processed foods. Now it is possible for everyone to eat healthy food on a budget. You don’t have to be on a tight budget anymore to eat real food diet. There are some resources and money-saving tips that can stretch your budget while eating healthy foods.
Real Foods That are Simple
The most expensive food items are convenience foods. Therefore, giving up convenience foods is very important to cut costs and eat real food. One should learn to enjoy real food meals that are simple.
Many people might not have eaten healthiest food previously; therefore, it is a good idea to redefine what people think about meals. A good example of simple real foods are baked spaghetti squash boats with peppers, sautéed onions, and pastured sausage. Other examples are baked sweet potatoes, oven-roasted chicken, and colorful vegetables with a field greens salad.
The Meal Plan
A meal plan plays a significant role in reducing the food budget and keeping people on track of eating heathy foods. A great advantage of meal planning is that it would allows a person to make foods ahead, and those foods will be available for dinners and lunches.
Meal planning saves both money and time. A person would need to go to the store once a week or once in two weeks. He can also prepare the food for the entire week on weekends. The strategy cuts down overall time for food preparation. On average, it saves 3 to 4 hours a week.
Apps for Meal Planning
Technology has made life easy for everyone. Nowadays, people can use an app for meal planning, and it is done on the cell phone. One can do many things with the touch of a button. He can create a shopping list, browse new recipes, and save his own food recipes.
If someone is not into meal planning on the phone or computer then a good alternative is to use the recipe card system. In fact, the recipe card system has worked well for many people. Following is an example of a non-digital healthy meal plan system:
- Write down 15 to 20 recipes that are healthy and you like them. Now choose the recipes that are inexpensive so your budget is not disturbed.
- Now take a 3 x 5 index card, and write the meal’s name and its recipe.
- On the backside of the card, write the exact quantity of each ingredient needed for the recipe.
- For meal planning, one can pick out the number of meals he need and put them for the entire week or even the month. The next step is to add up the total ingredients of all recipes and the shopping list is ready.
- Stick the cards on the bulletin board or on the fridge. Put them in the recipe box as they are used.
The system is very good for sticking to a list, and it ensures that a person have foods prepared or he is ready to prepare them. It limits eating and impulsive purchasing, and no food is wasted.
Bulk cooking is very helpful when a person is on a budget. Especially when it comes to the meat. If one’s budget is the tightest, he can prepare a big and inexpensive cut of meat which he can reuse in many ways throughout the week. You should keep an eye out on the sales of items like brisket, ham, and turkey.
Following are three ways to repurpose meats:
- For ham, you can serve it with roasted cauliflower and potatoes. You can also put it in omelets or on salads. Ham can also be wrapped up in lettuce or fried with cabbage. The bones of ham also be used for stock/broth.
- The leftover meat of turkey can be rolled in lettuce leaves for lunch. Turkey enchiladas is good for dinner. It can also be added to omelets or simply stir fried.
- One can really enjoy the roast and brisket of beef. Use beef for making fajitas or add it in quesadillas or omelets. You can also heat it in barbecue sauce or use it in soups.
Some people use large amount of ground meat, chicken breasts or beef to structure their meals for the whole week. It is not a good idea to use seafood and fish like this because both are delicate. However, one can use quality canned salmon in soup or salad.
The more expensive meats are quality seafood and grass-fed quality meats. One can stretch them by serving in fried rice, curries, and stews. The leftovers of meat can be used for making homemade broth which is a very healthy meal.
The bones of any meat and leftover vegetables can be combined to make healthy stock or bone broth. For stretching meat for a longer period, it should be canned or stored in the freezer. Sometimes you can also use store-bought broth too.
The price of vegetables varies a lot. It is dependent on the source and time of the year. Going for the vegetables that are in season can help one save money. Frozen vegetables are cheaper in the winter and fresh vegetables are shipped from another country. Many people eat a lot root vegetables and seasonal greens. In summers, tomatoes, peppers, salads, and summer squash are available on low prices.
Vegetables that are great fillers and inexpensive year-around are sweet potatoes and cabbage. They can be used as substitutes in many recipes. One can buy many cases of sweet potatoes from farmer markets in the fall to stock up. The cost of cabbage does not go up much after the season. One can also purchase winter squash in bulk and store it for other seasons.
Bulk orders can help one save money in the long run. Non-perishable items like almond flour, liquid castile soap, herbal teas, coconut oil, olive oil, shredded coconut and coconut flour should be purchased in bulk. You can also purchase cheese in bulk from an organic farmer who sells raw cheese. Organic farmers can provide you cheese blocks of up to 20 lbs. It is a challenge to find such resources; however, it is fun to establish relationship with farmers to save time and money.
Grow Your Own Food
It is not impossible to grow your own food even if you live in a big city. You can divide your garden into small boxes for vegetables. You can plant fruit trees, blueberry bushes, and grape vines. It is wise to bring back Victory Gardens because food is becoming more expensive each year. Victory Gardens were very popular during the era of World Wars. The concept is to grow some of your own food. Nowadays, easy methods like square foot gardening are available, one should grow something for himself.
Backyard homestead is the next step up from backyard gardening. Depending on the location of your home, you can have chickens, livestock, and even bees. It will not only cut down your food cost but also provide you extra food to sell and make some money.
Avoid Buying Drinks
Cut out items like processed juices, canned drinks, and soda from your budget if you want to eat healthy. Such drinks have a big percentage in food bills. Your health will also improve when you will cut them out. The so-called healthy fruit juices do not offer much nutrition and disturb insulin level in the body. Even the conventional milk is not a good option because pasteurization removes most nutrients in it, and it also contains different levels of hormones. Once you remove those items from your food list, you will notice that your budget will significantly drop, and you will have more cash for healthier food items. Use filtered water, and if you need more than that then you can purchase nutritious drinks that are not only cheaper but also healthier. Herbal teas and beverages like Kombucha and Water Kefir can be made at home without spending much money.