Guest blog by Denise Austin
Author of Denise's Daily Dozen: The Easy, Every Day Program to Lose Up to 12 Pounds in 2 Weeks
I often hear people say that eating healthy is too expensive, but I disagree. Sure, some fast food costs less than a dollar. But it’s not worth it to eat all that heart-clogging fat and high calorie food, especially when there are some easy ways to make healthy foods fit your budget. Here some of my favorite tips:
1. Buy in bulk. I buy whole grains, nuts, dried beans, oats, dried fruits, and organic brown rice in bulk at places like Costco, Sam’s Club, and B.J’s. Because you’re not paying for extra packaging or marketing, your price per pound is a lot cheaper.
2. Don’t buy small packages. It may be easier to buy portion-size packages of food, but those little bags are often more expensive. Instead I suggest buying the large package and then dividing it into small portions in individual plastic bags when you get home.
3. Shop locally. I buy local produce and very reasonably priced olive oilat a store in my area called the Mediterranean Bakery because it offers great bargains. I also go to my local farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. It’s fresh and wholesome, less expensive, and you’re supporting local farmers.
4. Buy seasonally. I plan my recipes and weekly menus around what’s currently in season. These foods are lower in price and typically have much better flavor, too.
5. Grow your own. Homegrown is always best. I have my own herb garden in my kitchen. I can take snips of what I need like fresh basil, thyme, parsley, and rosemary, and it costs me just pennies.
6. Cook yourself. Restaurant meals tend to be pricier than what you’d eat at home, plus you don’t know exactly what goes into it so it’s harder to track fat and calories. I love to cook at home because I can control exactly what ingredients are in my food—such as how much salt or oil is used —as well as portion size.
7. Pick inexpensive edibles. Foods that give you more nutritional bang for your buck include potatoes, beans, eggs, milk, and canned tuna and soups. These foods have low price tags, but are high in vitamins, minerals, and other healthy compounds.
8. Split costs with a friend. Sometimes the food at those warehouse stores is less expensive but comes in huge packages that you can’t possibly finish. Instead, find a friend to split some of these items with.
9. Make restaurant meals more cost efficient. Today’s restaurant meals are bigger than ever. Instead of eating too much and regretting it later or wasting food, have your waiter put half your entrée in a To Go box before he even brings it to the table. For one price you get dinner today and another meal for tomorrow!
10. Cook in bulk. Once you’re chopping, dicing, and cooking, why not make more than one meal at once and then freeze it or put it in the fridge for another day? This saves time and money since all those perishable items you bought won’t go to waste.
11. Brown bag your lunch. Even if you do have a healthy place to buy food at work, it’s always cheaper to bring your own. This way you’re not paying marked up prices for something like a sandwich or salad that you could easily make yourself.
12. Practice good food storage. There’s nothing worse than spending good money on healthy foods only to toss rotten, unused items like fruits and veggies at the end of the week. Use your refrigerators crisper drawers for vegetables and when you freeze foods make sure the containers you use are made for the freezer (this helps ward off freezer burn and loss of flavor).