Eating healthy is often associated with expensive foods. While this can be true for some foods there are many simple changes you can make that will save you money AND calories! One easy way to eat healthier on a budget is to eat fewer processed foods. Buying fewer packaged and ready-to-eat products is a first step to eating a more wholesome diet that can also save you at the cash register. Adopt one or many of the following 12 tips to eat healthy on a budget!
1. Cook at home more often. This is a no brainer since eating out can get expensive very quickly. By simply reducing the number of meals that you eat out you can help both your bank account and your calorie budget.
2. Make less food and eat less food. Since most Americans eat too much food in the first place, now is a great time to truly stop eating when you are satisfied versus being full, stuffed, or sick.
3. Save green by eating more green! Include more plant-based meals. It’s not a secret that meat is one of the most expensive parts of a food budget so by simply switching to some other vegetarian sources of protein like beans (black, garbonzo, kidney, etc.), lentils, or quinoa you can definitely save some significant money. Consider a bean soup or use quinoa as a substitute for rice in recipes to boost the protein.
4. Buy in bulk but with a list. If you live close to a Costco, consider buying some items in bulk (some of my personal Costco favorites: organic spinach, Kirkland Organic Peanut Butter, 1% Organic Milk). Just make sure you don’t overeat because you buy in big portions.
5. When eating out share an appetizer and an entree between two people. Most restaurants serve big portions in the first place so cut back on the amount you order.
6. Take a healthy snack to work. This is a great way to make sure you are getting more healthy foods in your diet. Pack some fresh fruit or vegetables. To boost the protein you can try a low-fat cottage cheese.
7. A little advance planning can save a lot of time and make your dollars stretch more for your food budget. Spend some time each week planning your meals/snacks and grocery shopping to make sure you have the ingredients you need.
8. Stop buying ready-to-eat and get to cooking. You are paying more for ready-to-eat foods and they are less wholesome so make it a plan to try at least two new recipes a week. For example, making your own black bean soup can last several meals and it will also be made with less sodium (as long as you don’t add too much)and taste more delicious than buying a can of black bean soup.
9. Consider buying store brands. For less money you can often get a product which is very similar in quality. Foods to consider (canned beans, tomatoes, broth).
10. Don’t shop when you are hungry and try anything to avoid shopping with your children. If they must shop with you give them their own grocery list to keep them focused on better foods.
11. Replace soda, juice, bottled tea, and other high-calorie, high-cost drinks with water. Also, be good to the environment and your budget by choosing tap water instead of bottled water. Consider buying a water filter like a Brita.
12. Whenever possible, shop at farmers’ markets. It’s a great way to support your local farmers and you should save money. Now, this is a great place to take your kids shopping with you! Fresh, delicious and nutritious! Visit www.localharvest.org  to find one close to you!