Is it possible to eat healthy on a budget? Even if you want to commit to a healthy lifestyle through a sugar detox or just by improving your diet, you might feel intimidated and worried about being able to afford healthy options. Luckily, there are ways to keep food costs down. Here’s 11 tips from Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Beth Romanski on how you can eat eat healthy on a budget.
Have you made a decision to eat healthier or go on a sugar detox this year? Good for you! Cutting out sugar and improving your diet can not only help you lose weight, improve your self-esteem and mood, but you can also prevent more serious long-term health issues like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
But as you prepare to adopt your new healthy lifestyle, you may feel a little shocked (and panicked) when you find yourself at the grocery store checkout with a bill that’s much larger than you expected. That bill might put doubt in your head about adopting this new healthy lifestyle and how to eat healthy on a budget, even though you know deep down it’s the best thing for you to do.
As a Nutrition Health Coach, I always tell my clients that changing to a healthier diet may require an initial investment, but it will be TOTALLY worth it to have all the healthy items you need on hand to make good choices and tasty meals. You’ll be glad to have healthy low sugar options to reach for when you are starving or having a sugar craving. Plus, consider that after doing a sugar detox and transitioning to a healthier diet, you will be improving your overall health and reducing the risk of chronic illness. This means you may be able to eliminate doctor visits and expensive prescription drugs in the future, saving you money in the long term.
11 Ways To Eat Healthy On a Budget
Eating healthy does not mean that you have to break the bank. There are ways to save and still eat healthy foods. The reality is you truly don’t have to buy “fancy” specialty foods to be successful as a healthy eater. Even if you just stick with the basics that you may already have in your pantry, like canned coconut milk, coconut flour, coconut aminos (soy sauce replacement), unsalted seeds and nuts, spices and hot teas, you can do well on any type of healthy diet, including a sugar detox. Here are 11 tips on how to eat healthy on a budget and what else you can do to keep costs down and food quality up:
- Buy in bulk at discount stores
We all love beautiful grocery stores with classical music playing and delicious aromas wafting, but they can be pricey. Believe it or not, large discount membership stores are actually ahead of the curve when it comes to stocking some healthier options, thanks to changing consumer demands. Consider discount stores or smaller niche markets that are all responding to consumer demands nationwide for healthier foods at an affordable price. Research local stores that have bulk organic products and shop there.
- Order online
You can find some sugar detox staples at a better price online because online stores can source directly from vendors. I don’t know about you, but I like when food is delivered to my door without me having to waste time or energy shopping for it!
- Eat in season
You may not be able to grow all your own produce (though I highly recommend doing this if you can… even if it’s just herbs), but shopping at local markets or in the grocery store based based on seasonal availability can make a difference on your bill. You may have heard about a community supported agriculture (CSA) program where you purchase weekly deliveries directly from a farm. Look for a local one and share the costs with a friend if needed. If you can freeze foods, use the seasons to store fruits or other seasonal produce for winter when they are harder to find at a reasonable price. Find local farmers markets and CSAs at the Local Harvest website.
- Frozen is a “yes”
We’re told to shop the perimeter of the grocery store to avoid packaged foods, which is a good idea. But there’s one inside aisle it’s okay to frequent for vegetables: the frozen section. Believe it or not, frozen veggies contain all the nutrients that fresh ones do and they’re usually a fraction of the price, especially if you’re buying at the grocery store and not a farmers market or in the off-season.
- Focus on the basics
Why not balance your grocery bill with canned fish (tuna, salmon, sardines) when fresh seems too expensive? Purchase chicken with the bone-in, chicken thighs or a whole chicken with the skin and have meals for days instead of just buying the skinless boneless chicken breasts. The same goes for cuts of meat. Less expensive cuts make great roasts and meals that feed a family multiple meals. Root veggies like turnips, butternut squash, parsnips, spaghetti squash, plantains, eggs, tomato paste and canned pumpkin are all examples of staple sugar detox foods that won’t break the bank. Even staples like coconut flour go a long way in sugar detox recipes.
- Don’t always buy name-brand
Most large food stores now produce their own brands at a more affordable price than the name-brand options. For example, the store-brand coconut milk at my local grocery store is $1.99 versus $3.89 for a name-brand version. It may not seem like much, but every small savings adds up.
- Stay away from packaged
The goal is to eat mostly real, whole foods instead of the packaged foods you may have relied on previously. Even if breakfast bars, frozen meals, canned soups and cereal are no longer on your grocery list, there are other forms of packaged “healthy” foods that are sugar-detox approved that can still hike up the bill. For example, instead of buying kale or beet chips, crackers or riced cauliflower, forgo the trendy packaging and make them yourself. Sure, pre-cubed butternut squash is nice in a pinch, but you can save several dollars by buying the whole squash and spending a few minutes cutting it up yourself to roast or bake. Same thing goes with pre-packaged salads compared to whole heads of greens that you can just cut up when you’re ready to toss into a dish.
- Make your own
If cooking isn’t your thing, plan super simple meals, so healthy meals will work with your lifestyle. If you do like to cook, it should be easy to eat healthy on a budget. You should be in your glory with all the variety! The number of things you can make at home are endless. Instead of buying kombucha or sauerkraut, you can easily make your own at a fraction of the cost. You can even make homemade almond milk by soaking raw almonds overnight and blending them in filtered water with a little cinnamon. You’ll have leftover “pulp” that you can use to make easy low-carb crackers. Coconut flour muffins, whole roasted chickens, homemade mayo, soups, and stews are all easy and budget-friendly ideas. Making your own salad dressing with a few basic ingredients is easy and saves you from consuming the undesirable oils or added sugars in bottled brands.
- Eat at home
Cooking at home instead of eating out is a pretty significant way to eat healthy on a budget, so doing a sugar detox is the perfect time for you to do more home cooking. If you have a partner or a family, you’ll even have more time to bond while sharing meal preparation and eating. Crockpot meals are great time savers, and they are pretty fail-proof, even for the novice in the kitchen!
- Plan your meals
Meal planning goes hand-in-hand with making more of your own food and eating out less. If you have a plan, you can take better advantage of sales and coupons and you can also incorporate your purchases into a few different meals throughout the week. For example, if you buy chicken breasts in bulk, you can throw them on the grill with veggies so you can have leftovers for the next day. Then try leftover chicken breast sliced atop a bed of salad greens with chopped egg, olives, avocado, chilled roasted veggies and grilled red bell peppers as a delicious lunch—without having to cook!
- Choose wisely
The reality is that some healthy foods will cost more, so when you want to splurge, I recommend choosing wisely. The Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list is a helpful guide for what produce you may want to consider buying organic. Unless 100 percent organic is important to you for ethical reasons, you don’t have to buy everything organic. Perhaps reserve organic purchases for meat and full-fat dairy. Finally, when it comes to unique packaged foods or specialty foods and supplements, pick one specialty item per month as a treat and so you’re spreading the costs over several months instead of having wallet shock.
Try incorporating some or all of my tips for healthy eating on a budget. You can find ways to save money and improve your health at the same time!
Visit Beth’s website at www.myhealthytransitions.com to learn more about her one-on-one coaching programs and to request a complimentary health consultation to discuss your personal health goals. Listen to Beth’s Wellness Warriors radio podcast or learn more about her 30-Day Sugar Detox Health Coaching Program to find food freedom from sugar and carbs for good!
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