There is a misconception that healthy eating is more expensive than a “normal” diet. There is this idea that in order to be healthy you need to buy expensive superfoods or meat substitutes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Done properly, healthy eating should actually save you money. So over the next month I will be sharing with you my top tips for healthy eating on a budget. Starting with the most important – creating your healthy eating plan.
We are creatures of habit. Most people cook the same meals every week, get the same sandwich for lunch, and order the same pizza. Trouble is, many of us are in the habit of choosing unhealthy and convenience foods. Not only are these foods bad for your health, they also tend to cost more. If you are serious about losing body fat, getting healthy and keeping your spending under control, you need to form new eating habits. So the first step is to have a plan for how you will form these new habits.
Take the time each week to plan what you will be eating for every meal and snack. You want a range of meals with a variety of different foods to make sure you are getting plenty of nutrients (and to avoid boredom). Some fish, some chicken, and some vegetarian protein sources. A variety of carbohydrates – porridge oats, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, wholewheat pasta. A rainbow of different coloured fruit and vegetables. Think about looking up some new recipes online or in a cookbook with a healthy eating focus. Don’t forget to include some of your favourite types of foods, whether that’s curry, pizza or a bit of chocolate. It is far better to plan a small treat than to cut it out completely, which will only create cravings and impulse buying.
When creating your meal plans, you also need to be realistic about how often you will feel like cooking. It does take more thought and effort to eat healthy foods prepared yourself than grabbing a ready meal or take away. Too often we start the week full of good intentions and a fridge that looks like a Whole Foods aisle. But then work was crazy, you get home late and simply don’t feel like cooking. By the end of the week you are throwing away half the vegetables you bought because you didn’t get around to cooking them in time. So you should have a plan for what you will do when you arrive home exhausted and starving.
Do this at the start of each week and use your meal plan to create a grocery list. Never go grocery shopping without a list. Grocery stores have all sorts of tricks to make us buy more – everything from enticing bakery smells to special offers. Without a list, it’s far too easy to be influenced by clever marketing and product placement into buying more expensive brands or unhealthy foods you don’t need.
Fundamentally, one of the keys to healthy eating on a budget is planning – failure to plan is planning to fail!