How can you eat healthy on a low budget? This is a question I have been exploring for a long time. I am currently paying off a brand new car and I am paid California minimum wage. I prefer to eat organic food, for both the impact on my health and that of the environment, which is also more expensive. So making the right choices can be a challenge.
One thing I've had to get used to is eating the same thing every day for awhile. Also eating leftovers. This used to be really hard for me. I like new things, fresh choices, fresh food. But with a thin wallet oatmeal every day for breakfast for two weeks straight started to sound good. I would break that up with two-ingredient pancakes once or twice a week.
I almost always buy bananas, as they are inexpensive, healthy and filling. I alternate other fruits between blueberries, apples, dates, strawberries, raspberries. For vegetables, I always have a big bag of carrots and a large quantity of spinach or kale (kale is cheaper than many vegetables)-then I alternate between other vegetables to fill in. I try and keep a store of winter squash and sweet potatoes stowed away in the cupboard.
For protein I often buy eggs and chicken. Once in awhile I add a different protein in there for variation. For me, a dozen eggs goes a long way. I often buy large packages of chicken at Costco or Trader Joes to freeze.
Keep your eye out for coupons or sales, and stock up on things when they are on sale. Preserve food that won't last fresh, by freezing, drying, or canning.
Experiment with your staples
If you figure out a staple or two for each meal, you then have some leeway to change things up by getting a few other ingredients. It takes a willingness to explore and be creative in the kitchen, which I personally enjoy. There are so many things you can do with quinoa or with a bag of Pamela's gluten free pancake mix
. With vegetables you can sauté, steam, or bake them; mash them, blend them, or eat them raw. Fruit can be eaten fresh as a snack or on yogurt, or blend it into a smoothie with peanut butter to make a filling meal. There are so many options and combinations to try, so don't let your empty fridge or cupboard scare you away from going for a new creation! (My fridge is emptier than most people I know...) If it tastes bad, you try something different. You figure out what works and what doesn't work. If you're really not sure, start by making a small quantity. If you're not good at creating new things with food, download Pinterest or other sites that are full of healthy recipes to give you ideas.
Decide that your health comes first, and plan what you will buy with your small budget. You may have to eat out less often, but in the end the reward is being happier and prouder of yourself for taking care of your body the way you have been wanting to.
These are some of the things I do to live my ideals of eating organic as well as healthy on a budget. What are some of the things that help you keep a balance?
These tips for eating healthy on a budget were compiled by PumpUp member @bodysoulspiritfitness, a teacher and movement artist with a passion for healthy living and adventure. Follow her blog here.