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Eating Healthy While Keeping an Eye on Your Budget


When you have a tight budget, healthy meal planning and grocery shopping can be tricky. Here are 10 ideas that can make your budgeting goals easier and more realistic while keeping you and your family nourished and healthy.

1. Buy fresh produce when it’s in season and freeze it.

Fresh produce is always great, but the cost can add up fast. Stick with buying what’s currently in season, and consider stocking up when you find a good deal.

2. Look for sales and plan meals accordingly.

If your local grocery store offers a savings card be sure to sign up, and check the weekly circular to see what’s on sale. Instead of shopping for groceries based on your weekly meal plan, consider planning your meals around what’s on sale.

If the store you usually shop at has a weekly circular my best piece of advice is to check it every week and plan your meals around what’s on sale. This has saved me so much money lately. It can also force you to get creative and maybe try some items or dishes you’ve never had.

3. Try less expensive cuts of meat.

You can still enjoy meat, even when you’re on a tight budget. Look for less expensive cuts of meat, like chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, and try different cooking methods, like the slow cooker, to make tougher cuts of meat tender and juicy.

If you’re a meat-eater, learn to love cheaper cuts! Bone-in, skin-on, tougher cuts of red meat, and organ meats are all dirt-cheap (and more nutritious and flavourful!) compared to, say, boneless skinless chicken breasts, even if you’re buying the organic/free-range stuff. Don’t be afraid of (good-quality) fat, especially if you’re trying to lose weight in order to be happy and healthier.

Look for cheaper cuts such as lamb neck fillets, pork belly and cheeks, shin of beef, and whole chickens that will yield enough for leftovers, plus a carcass for soup or congee, chicken livers, gizzard, etc.

4. Embrace whole grains and beans.

Beans and whole grains, like quinoa, freekeh, and brown rice are an inexpensive and tasty way to bulk up meals, and can even be a meal in themselves.

Whole grains can really bulk up a meal and make it more filling and they’re generally on the cheaper side. Buy a package of wheat berries, or whole wheat couscous, cook it up, and freeze it in single portions to throw into salads or soups when you need them. The whole grains will also keep you full longer and may help aid in your weight loss efforts.

5. Plan and prep meals ahead.

Whether it’s veggies for the week, tomorrow’s breakfast, lunches, or dinners, prepping food in advance is a step in the right direction toward eating healthy. Plus, it’s also a good way to make sure you’re eating what’s in the fridge, to minimize waste.

6. Broaden your culinary horizons!

Cuisines, like Mexican and Indian, rely heavily on inexpensive ingredients, like beans and rice.

If you don’t like Indian or Mexican food, learn to. From my experience, it’s the best value-to-flavor ratio. In both cuisines, rice is a staple, which is cheap. Both are not meat-heavy, which is also cheap. Both also allow a lot of ingredients to be used interchangeably. Less waste which equals cheap.

7. Keep an organized fridge and pantry.

Leftovers are always great, but it totally defeats the purpose if they get lost in the back of the fridge. Label leftovers and keep your fridge organized to help minimize food waste.

Waste of leftovers or frozen food can be minimized by keeping an orderly fridge/freezer and by labeling. I use a strip of masking tape and a Sharpie to identify food and date on the container. Package foods in amounts you will use, such as freezing chicken pieces by twos and hamburger in patties separately wrapped. Keeping a list of items in the fridge also sounds useful but I admit I’ve never been able to stick with that one.

8. Repurpose leftovers.

If you don’t like eating the same meal over and over, consider repurposing leftovers into an entirely new and delicious meal. Leftover meat and vegetables often are the best start for a great soup or stew.

9. Go to the farmers market at the end of the day.

Depending on where you live, farmer’s markets may or may not save you money during regular hours. Consider visiting the market at the end of the day, when you could very likely score some great deals.

10. Shop at ethnic markets.

Consider checking out local ethnic markets. Not only are you likely to find a bargain on certain products, you’ll also find some really interesting ingredients.