I’ve got a confession to make.
I’m a foodie. I LOVE food. I love making food and I really love eating food, especially healthy food. Not only does it taste good, it makes my body feel good.
Yes, I love food, but I really hate wasting money. And, if I’m not careful, healthy eating can get expensive fast. When that happens it can make it difficult to stick to healthy eating goals and lose weight.
But, I promise you that eating healthy on a budget is totally possible when you follow these 8 tips!
1. Take Weekly Inventory
The first thing you want to do when trying to stick to a budget is go through your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry and take inventory. It might sound boring and tedious, but trust me, it’s completely worth it! The food in your fridge is often the most perishable and expensive so it’s important to keep track of what you have on hand.
The best way to do this is to go shelf-by-shelf and write down everything that’s in there, including leftovers. I even write down amounts like 7 eggs, 3 apples, half a gallon of milk, etc. Once you’ve got a system down, this step takes no time at all!
2. Check the Sales
Now that you know what you already have, it’s time to figure out what’s on sale. This will help you determine your menu for the week. Collect all of the circulars you get in the mail to compare sales and see which stores have the better deals.
If a big buck item like meat is on sale for a great deal, stock up. You can store what you don’t use this week in the freezer (just don’t forget to include it next time you take inventory!).
3. Buy Seasonal Whenever Possible (when it’s not, buy frozen)
Another way to cut costs is by buying seasonal produce. Things like fresh corn, strawberries and artichokes are extremely expensive when eaten out of season. Do yourself a favor and eat what’s in season. Not only will these foods be cheaper, they’ll be a lot tastier too!
One great way to do this is by checking out your local
your local farmers market. Here a few tips on how to get the most out of your farmer’s market:
If buying seasonal isn’t an option, opt for frozen fruits and veggies instead. This might seem like the wrong idea, but frozen foods are frozen at the peak of freshness, so they’re actually very nutritious and tasty.
CAUTION: Avoid any frozen fruit that has added sugar!
4. Use the Same Ingredients for Multiple Meals
Plan on eating the same protein, veggies and carbs a few times a week. This allows you to use up what you’re buying. If you don’t use ingredients then you will likely end up throwing them away, which is money in the garbage.
You could even prepare some of your ingredients at the beginning of the week, making dinner easy to throw together each night. Try cooking all your chicken at once and then using different seasonings to change it up for every meal. One night it goes in burritos and the next you could use it on a salad.
The recipes in the IdealPlan were actually designed to have a lot of overlapping ingredients for this exact reason.
5. Avoid Expensive Ingredients that You Won’t Use Up
Avoid expensive, one-off ingredients for dishes you rarely cook. If you can’t use up an ingredient it will end up being money wasted.
For example, one time I really wanted to try this curry recipe but it called for an expensive spice I didn’t have on hand. I ended up getting a giant container of the spice — thinking I would love the recipe and use it all the time — but it’s been sitting, untouched, in my cupboard for years. Lesson learned!
If it’s something you “need” check the bulk section and only buy the amount your recipe calls for.
6. Plan to Eat Leftovers
If you make big meals that leave leftovers behind, but you never eat those leftovers, healthy eating can get expensive. If you know the recipe you’re making will leave you with lots of leftovers, work leftovers into your menu. One less night of cooking will make your life easier too!
7. Only Buy the Amount You Need
Costco and Sam’s Club are great, you can save big by buying big! But, if you don’t use all of the food you buy, those “savings” don’t really matter. On the other hand, if you plan on eating a certain veggie with every meal, go ahead and buy the big bag.
Beware of buying bulk sizes of ingredients that have an extremely short shelf life. Certain leafy greens and lettuces, like spinach, are very delicate and won’t last an entire week. If you plan on cooking these veggies for some meals do it at the beginning of the week, they’ll keep for a lot longer once they’re cooked.
8. Stock Staple Ingredients
There are some items that I always want to have on hand no matter what. I asked Trainer Lindsey what her go-to kitchen staples are, many of these items are also staples of the IdealPlan as well!
• egg whites in the carton
• plain greek yogurt
• low fat cottage cheese
• flavored greek yogurts
• peanut butter
• buttered popcorn rice cakes
• frozen chicken breast
• Bolthouse light yogurt dressing (cilantro is my fave right now)
• Cream of wheat/rice
• Arctic Zero ice cream (fat free, lactose free, etc)
• Turkey breast
• olive oil mayo
• coconut oil
• unsweetened almond milk
• low sugar cereals (I use puffed brown rice a lot from the health food store and my kids have multigrain cheerios, plain cheerios, honey bunches of oats, stuff with less than 6g sugar per serving)
Bringing It All Together
When you’re trying to eat healthy and lose weight you don’t want to break the bank in order to do so. Most of your savings come from using up what you’ve already purchased. That means taking inventory and planning menus that use up the ingredients you buy.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean spending an arm and a leg. It means being smart and spending your time (not your money) on preparation.
Sometimes I get caught up in finding healthy recipes that fit the bill for the ingredients I want to buy. That’s where the IdealPlan comes in. It has a ton of great, healthy recipes with basic ingredients, plus a guide on how to create your own healthy dinners with whatever you have in your fridge or pantry.
Check out the IdealPlan now and add some new healthy recipes to your meal planning arsenal!
Complete 30 Plan 2 Tubs of IdealShake, 4 Boxes of IdealBar, Shaker Bottle, Complete Ideal Weight Loss Plan Ebook, and 51 Weight Loss Smoothies Ebook