Eat Healthy on a Budget by Planning Ahead
Eating healthy – lots of fruits and veggies, lean protein, whole grains – doesn’t have to be more expensive. If you shop smart and plan ahead, you’ll be surprised at how much goodness you can haul without breaking the bank.
The reality is, many of those ready-made, super-fast, prepackaged foods actually cost MORE than homemade foods. And they tend to have more calories, saturated fat, sodium and added sugars.
So drop the excuses because scoring those nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods your body needs is easier – and cheaper – than you think.
Planning ahead is key to success.
Preparing menus and grocery lists ahead of time can keep you from making impulse food choices, which often aren’t healthy. With a little planning, you can make the healthy choice the easy choice.
- Plan out one or two weeks of healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take a few minutes over the weekend to go through your favorite healthy recipes and map out your meal plan. Update your go-to list as you come across new recipes, and don’t be afraid to try new things!
- Use a grocery list or meal-planning app with a grocery list feature. This will help you quickly grab the ingredients you need for your healthy meal plan.
- If your work week is crazy, cook over the weekend and store pre-portioned meals in the fridge or freezer. Now this is a real time and money saver! Just thaw and reheat for hassle-free lunches and dinners.
- Cut up fruits and vegetables and keep them handy in the fridge, or pre-pack individual servings for when you’re on the go. You’ll have ready-made healthy snacks and meal ingredients at your fingertips.
Shop smart to save big.
- Knowing how to navigate the grocery store can save time and money.
- Keep an eye out for specials. Stock up on frozen and canned produce when it’s on sale.
- Use coupons and join store rewards programs. You’ll be more aware of what’s on sale and able to work it into your meal planning.
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season. For example, blueberries cost less in spring and summer, when they’re in season. You’ll pay more in the fall and winter when they’re shipped from warmer climates.
- Skip the ready-made foods and individually-packaged snacks. The convenience may be tempting but it’s usually healthier and cheaper to prepare these same foods at home. So aim your cart in another direction.
- Buy local – at a farmer’s market or store. The produce may be fresher because it wasn’t picked before ripening to travel on a truck long-distance to get to you. You’ll know where your food is coming from and help your local economy. You can save money by buying in bulk and splitting the cost with friends or family.
Practices makes perfect.
- Don't give up! Putting a new healthy routine in place doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t give up!
- Make healthy changes one step at a time. You and your family won’t feel blindsided or deprived of all of your favorites if the changes are gradual.
- Involve the whole family. Kids can help with meal planning, grocery shopping and even cooking. Let each family member be chef for a day and take charge of a particular meal. Encourage older kids to make a game of reading food labels at the grocery store. Let younger kids pick out new types of fruits and vegetables to try. Get more budget-friendly tips online. The AHA has got your back in the grocery store and the kitchen. Learn how to eat healthy and check out this list of healthy foods under $1.
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