How to Buy Food on a Budget and Still Eat Healthy

Pick up any health food magazine and you might feel that the food you see is just not destined for your plate. Images of salmon fillets, avocado, and quinoa fill the pages, and it’s enough to discourage anyone with a tight budget from eating healthy. But healthy eating is not just for the rich! Read on to see how you can save money and still eat healthy!

By Cookist

Are you ready to start saving AND improve your eating habits? Then we have a few great tips for you. Learn how to become a deal detective and get better deals with a bulk-buying buddy!

1. Use what you have


We often buy duplicate items during our weekly shopping trip. Do an assessment of what you already have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. List everything from fresh foods, canned goods, packets, grains, and even spices. Go through recipe books or use the online search function of recipe-based websites, to get ideas for meals based on what you already have in your kitchen.

Canned beans and lentils can be used to stretch your meats. Limp vegetables can be added to a roast or stew. If you have a little bit of ketchup left in the bottle, mix it with water and add to a casserole. If you can’t afford to eat meat, lentils are the healthiest (and cheapest way) to add protein to your diet.

2. Feel inspired, not restricted


Recipe books and websites should serve as a source of inspiration, not a restriction. If you don’t have certain ingredients on hand, feel free to experiment with what you have. Don’t have fresh vegetables? Try frozen or canned vegetables. Frozen vegetables are picked very close to their ripening period, which means they have the same amount of nutrients (if not more) than the ones you find in the fresh food aisle.

Substitution is not just for vegetables. Meat is expensive, so used canned beans instead of chicken or beef. White beans work great in recipes that call for chicken, whereas kidney beans are suitable to use instead of beef.

3. Try meat-free Mondays (and Tuesdays and Wednesdays…)


There’s no reason why Mondays should be the only days on which you restrict your meat consumption. Some vegetarian recipes are tasty enough to eat several times a week! Try going meat-free for two to three days a week. Not only is it healthier, you will save a lot of money on your weekly spending.

If you consume a limited amount of meat, remember to include other foods to provide protein. There are many cheaper and healthier alternatives to meat – peanut butter (great for breakfast), eggs, canned tuna, plain yoghurt, canned sardines, sunflower seeds… the list goes on.

4. Bulk-buy (but don’t be fooled!)


It’s a well-known fact that bulk-buying can save you a lot of money. And healthy dish ‘fillers’ like canned beans, lentils, or brown rice, are often available in bulk quantities. But there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, just because it’s a bulk deal doesn’t mean it would inevitably be cheaper. Do the math to see if it really works out cheaper. And if it is cheaper, there’s a second thing to keep in mind. You only save money if you end up using all the groceries you bought in bulk. In other words, if you buy perishable items and don’t use them before they spoil, you’re basically throwing money in the garbage bin.

Make sure you buy non-perishable items in bulk, or even better, get a ‘bulk-buy buddy’. If you know of a friend that also wants to save money, team up and share the cost of great bulk deals. In this way you get the savings without risking the food items expiring.

Be a deal detectiveDifferent supermarkets offer different deals, so make sure you know which deals are on offer when you go shopping. It’s not necessary to drive around looking for various deals (you’d just be wasting gas, which of course, costs more money!). Nowadays, most stores have their promotions online. So, compare your shopping list with the online promotions, and see if you can score a bargain!

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