How to Eat Healthy On a Very Tight Budget

--When you can buy a burger for a $1 or feed a family of 5 for $3.50 using cheap fatty meats and Hamburger Helper but it costs $4 for a bag of grapes or a package of spinach, and $3 for a bunch of broccoli, it can seem like eating healthy is only for those with plenty of $ to spend.  I am here to tell you that this doesn't have to be the case, you can eat very healthy and spend less than you spend on the stuff the food industry passes off for food.

There are many things that add to this since most of us eat on plates the size that used to be our grandparents serving platters which gets us eating more than we actually need along with the fact that most of us are filling up on foods that don't give us what we need and so our bodies tell us we are hungry even though we've eaten lots of calories because our food is devoid of actual nutrition.  (Did you know that an apple you buy in the store today has as many calories but only half the nutrition of an apple only 50 years ago? So even "healthy" food is lacking in nutrition unless you grow it yourself.)  If you eat very much fast food and processed foods, those foods are also created to get you to eat and crave them more than you would if they were made more "homemade" style.  All of this also has massive effects on our medical costs so we more than make up for what we save today on cheap "food" with what we spend tomorrow on Dr's visits, medication, surgeries, and lost quality of life.

--First thing you need to do when looking to save $ on your groceries while eating healthy is to flip the way we usually think of breakfast, lunch and supper.  Instead of eating a big meal in the evening you should eat the way my mom taught me, she said "eat like a king in morning, a queen for lunch and a pauper at night."  This way of eating is not only easier on our budgets but is great for our health as well.  Proteins like eggs are cheaper than the meats we typically eat for dinner and since our blood sugar levels and metabolism are set in the morning, having a big healthy breakfast sets us up for success for the rest of the day.

--The second thing was already touched on, buying cheaper proteins like eggs, milk, cottage cheese, beans, soy, peanut butter, etc.

--Third, rethink where you buy your food, buy in bulk, if you can't go through some of the things fast enough or it's too expensive to get started then find a friend or two to split it with, sometimes I can buy things at the wholesale clubs for just over half of what I'd pay somewhere else.  You can also save a lot buy buying at closeout stores, I've gotten some great pickles at the dollar store.

--  buy frozen and canned, Frozen fruits and veggies can be up to half the price of fresh and since most of them are picked when fully ripe and then frozen right away they have more nutrition and flavor as well.  Some Canned foods like tomatoes and tomato sauce and paste save a lot of time, are great in recipes and on the wallet, they also taste better and have more nutrition as well.  Other canned fruits and veggies are generally more expensive by actual weight, esp. once you've poured off the liquid, than fresh so I only recommend tomatoes, plus they are generally soft and flavorless.

--  Buy whole unprocessed foods like plain yogurt, pasta, rice, beans, oil, nuts, oats, chicken, etc.  You can buy these whole foods in bulk as well and store them, since they are your basics you can use them in almost any kind of meal.

--  When buying fresh only buy what is in season.

-- 7  *Plant a garden, when you grow your own herbs, fruits and vegetables it not only saves you tons of money but  it has other benefits as well, it can be very relaxing, it adds oxygen, it is very rewarding, and food you grew yourself tastes better and typically has about double the nutrition of fresh produce from the store.  I only had a tiny concrete patio one year but I was still able to grow 4 tomato plants, 7 different herbs and lots of lettuce, all in containers.  This cost me about $50 to get all the supplies but I had so many herbs that I dried plenty for the rest of the year, enough tomatoes to give away and can some, and  the lettuce was so good that everybody I gave some to said that they had no idea lettuce could be so full of flavor and crunchy.  I saved about $100 even after subtracting the food I gave away.

-- 8  Plan ahead, make a menu for the week or even month, plan your shopping after making an inventory of what you already have so that you don't buy multiples and waste food.  Make double portions and then eat the leftovers soon, freeze them and eat them later or use them in another meal.

-- 9  Soda and other flavored drinks like punch, even juice, may taste great but they aren't so good for you, soda is the worst since it causes you to retain water, retards your absorption of oxygen, and caffeine is a diuretic so it makes you dehydrated; even juice has the same calories as soda or punch so it's only good in moderation.  Milk may be touted as a super healthy drink but it contains as much sugar as soda and twice as much if you drink the flavored ones so even milk needs to be in moderation, instead drink tap water, it's calorie free, really cheap and just what your body needs.

-- 10  Time is also money, keep it simple, instead of making complicated recipes save those for special occasions and make most of your meals with only about five ingredients.

*   (Although several of my recipes say how much they cost I am stating the cost without sales or savings, I haven't included how much I saved with coupons or anything I grew on my own.)

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