Getting Healthy on a Budget
Eating healthy has been the topic of much debate for quite some time now, especially with new years resolution season coming up and everyone trying to get back into “good” fitness habits. The problem that most people tend to come across is not being able to change their eating habits due to price.
A majority of consumers claim they either cannot afford to eat healthy or do not have access to buy healthier options, like fresh produce. To further complicate the issue, convenience tends to drive most purchases which means lots of fast food or easy-to-make processed food and snacks. However, a recent study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) does prove that budgeting for healthier options is possible, as long as you can flex your budget by $1.50 more per day.
While most fast food options have a lower price tag the value is simply not there when it comes to overall nutrients. Fruit and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, fiber and water which can be your best defense against fighting off colds and even some illnesses.
How to Live Healthy on a Budget
Improve Your Shopping
The key to eating healthy on a budget is to plan ahead and use rule #1: always shop around. Cut your shopping trips into two a week rather than one because if you only shop in one store for groceries per week, you can only take advantage of one sale cycle. The USDA has a chart that breaks down spending habits of food per household at four different levels which you can reference here. The numbers show weekly and monthly averages and fluctuate based on gender, age, and family size.
Produce can be especially pricey if you don’t buy what is in season, and you may also find that going to a farmers market rather than a chain supermarket store can help cut costs as well. Another tip is to buy the fresh produce while it is in season or on sale and freeze it. This works especially well for large families when it comes to buying any kind of fresh meat, or vegetables in bulk. Fruit can also be frozen and used in smoothies or desserts.
Plan Your Meals
Making multiple meals for yourself ahead of time can reduce your temptation to drive through someplace on your lunch break or on your way home from work. If you have kids then take a page out of their book, brown bag your lunch and be sure it is something you enjoy eating otherwise the temptation to let it rot in your office fridge while you go out with your co-workers will take over.
Take the Emotion Out of Eating
Change the way you look at food. Most people view food emotionally, we have memories linked to what we eat and that can really effect our wallets over time. We don’t have to have ice cream to make us feel better after a break up, or order pizza on because cooking seems criminal on Friday night. If you start to view food for what it is, and plan meals based less on taste and more on how this is helping my body then you can really have an edge over eating healthier on a budget.