How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

We've heard it a million times: "I can't afford Whole Foods, so it's hard to eat healthy." I get it; shopping exclusively at upscale grocery stores can quickly take a hefty bite out of your budget. But, abiding by a few simple tips can really make a difference for your wallet...and your health!

If you google "healthy eating on a budget," about 153,000,000 results come back. That's a lot of advice! Obviously, no one will look at 153,000,000 websites...or even five! So, let's break down a few of the most useful strategies to get the most nutrition bang for your buck.

- Cook at home. I know, I know. With everyone's busy schedules, it's hard to cook at home all week. Kids' sports, school events, and social plans wreck even the best-laid plans. But, by resolving to cook at home even a little more than you do now, you can save big bucks down the road. A Forbes article claims it is about five times more expensive to order delivery than to cook for yourself. Five times! And, an obvious added benefit of cooking at home? It's healthier; eating out not only costs (a lot) more, but it is also laden with calories, fat, salt and sugar. Study after study find that restaurant meals typically exceed 1,000 calories. Considering the calorie requirements for most of us, that can quickly and easily result in unwanted weight gain.

- Plan. Cooking at home admittedly is more difficult than grabbing a value meal at a fast food restaurant. You have to think about what you're going to cook. You have shop for the right ingredients. You have prepare your ingredients. You have to cook the meal. But, with just a little bit of planning, you can make it less work. Start by planning your meals for the entire week. Then, write a grocery list for everything that you need. Some people reserve a couple of Sunday hours for meal prep - chopping, dicing, slicing - so cooking during the week is a lot less daunting.

- Buy in bulk, cook in bulk. When planning your week, see what you can double or even triple up. Instead of a one-pound bag of dried beans, can you go for a five-pound bag? (Dried beans last a long time in the pantry, and bigger bags are typically less expensive.) Once that bag of beans is home, try doubling the recipe, so you can enjoy your amazing bean soup two or three times during the week. Have more leftovers than you want? Most recipes freeze easily, so you can enjoy it down the road. By eating a recipe twice, you're literally cutting your work down by half.

- Focus on whole foods. A $3 bag of chips seems like a cheap option. But, once you consider its nutritional value, that bag doesn't look like the deal you may have thought it was. Food companies make their money by processing food in some way - whether it's ultra-processing our snack foods or even cutting up apples into convenient packages, we are paying for that processing. So, contrary to what some may think, eating whole foods (particularly foods that are in season) can be MUCH less expensive and way more nutritious.

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