Ways to save money on healthier food
Contrary to what you may have heard, eating healthy doesn’t have to be really expensive. A meta-analysis of 27 existing studies by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that the healthiest diets only cost $1.50 more per day, on average, than the least healthy ones.
Here are ways you can cut costs and eat healthy on a budget.
Cook at home.
Instead of going out to buy pre-made healthy food from stores, get the ingredients and make them yourself. If cooking is not your thing, or you don’t have the time, a nutritious and cost-effective alternative is to make your own healthy food staples, like salad dressing or granola.
These can be costly when store-bought, and making them yourself with fresh ingredients is “an easy way not only to save money but also to eat healthier versions of your favorite convenience foods,” said Stephanie Harris-Uyidi, a Southern California-based chef and host of the TV show “The Posh Pescatarian.”
Shop at your local farmers market.
Shopping for produce that is in season is a lot cheaper than buying produce that isn’t, and the best place to know what’s in season is at a farmers market.
Another tip? Make sure you use your produce fully and try not to waste anything. “One head of cabbage can serve up to 10 meals depending on how you use it,” said Heather Adams, a Seattle-based meditation and wellness teacher and writer.
Any fruits and veggies that you haven’t used yet but are close to spoiling can be made into smoothies.
Buy food in bulk, and try to stick to store brands.
Buying your favorite healthy foods in bulk means fewer trips to the store and more money saved. Also, buying the generic or store-brand versions of healthy foods — like peanut butter, cereals, yogurt, granola — will be cheaper than name-brand versions.
Use grocery store coupons and cash-back apps.
Budgeting expert Andrea Woroch advises taking advantage of grocery store coupons, cash-back apps or credit cards that allow you to get cash back on your groceries.
Prep meals in advance.
Sometimes the last thing you want to do after a long day is cook. To avoid reaching for the takeout menu in these situations, set aside one day a week to meal-prep.
To keep it simple, Harris-Uyidi suggests having one source of protein in each meal, at least one vegetable, and a whole-grain or nutrient-rich starch.
Stock up on frozen produce.
Frozen produce costs about 30% less than fresh produce, Woroch said. Plus, frozen fruits and veggies will last a lot longer and are usually all chopped and ready to go, so you don’t have to spend time rinsing and cutting.
If you find that you don’t end up using a lot of the fresh produce you buy or it spoils quickly, frozen might be a good option for you.
Eat less meat and dairy.
Explore plant-based or vegan options. “We noticed an immediate drop in our monthly grocery bill” after switching to a plant-based diet, said Rebecca Brooks, financial coach and owner of R&D Financial Coaching, LLC in Tennessee.
Brooks said it’s easy to see why — the average cost of a pound of tofu is half that of the same amount of beef or chicken.
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