Today we’ve got an awesome and super helpful post from Sam who is going to talk to us about eating healthy for less money! Sam spent most of her childhood in the family kitchen, watching her mother and father prepare traditional Greek dishes. By the time she was 8 she could make Spanakopita with her eyes closed. She blogs over at the Kitchen Professor. When she’s not prepping meals for her kids, she loves to try out new recipes, cookware and kitchen utensils.
Take it away Sam!
I have a favorite daydream that involves me, an industrial-sized kitchen with shiny, state-of-the-art equipment, endlessly stocked fridges, freezers and pantries, and nothing to do but cook, cook, cook.
In reality, of course, I make due with a nominally equipped, small kitchen and I’m constantly replenishing my supplies. I’m proud to be a budget conscious, savvy shopper.
But recently I’ve uncovered some awesome tips that have helped me to spend even less money and time on everyday meals – without compromising on nutrition.
10 Clever Hacks to Eat Healthy for Less Money
Stick to the List
Eat healthy for less money by making a grocery list before leaving the house. If it has 14 items on it, you should come home with 14 items (or 15 if there’s a sale on maple syrup!). If possible, avoid the middle aisles of the store where most of the packaged (and pricier) foods are stocked. Cruise the fresh fruits, veggies, fish and meat and check out the bulk bins for rice, beans and other dry goods. Once you fight off impulse purchases at the register, you’re home free!
Stick to the Plan
I find it easier to shop once I’ve figured out what I’ll be cooking for the next few days. Creating and keeping to a meal plan guarantees that you’ll spend less money and minimize food waste. That said, be flexible now and then. If you have a brand new food processor at home that you’re dying to use, switch out the tomato sauce you planned to make on Tuesday night and scoop up some basil and pine nuts to make pesto instead!
Organize and Prioritize
Things tend to get lost or forgotten once they’re put in freezers and cupboards. By labeling leftovers and cycling through them every week you’ll have a better chance of finishing what you’ve got instead of buying duplicate things. Push the older items to the front and use them up first.
Never Shop When You’re Hungry
Trust me on this one. Shop on a full stomach or else risk going rogue in the cereal aisle.
Give Life to Leftovers
While the kids don’t mind eating pizza two nights in a row, it’s more fun (and better for you) if you heat up leftover sausage, peppers and roasted veggies as toppings and create a “Deluxe Pie.” Challenge yourself: repurpose meals in a creative new way and see if your family can tell that it wasn’t just whipped up from scratch!
Eat with the Seasons
You can’t satisfy a craving for fresh strawberries in the middle of winter, or indulge your hankering for pumpkin soup on a summer day. Instead, focus on whatever is fresh and abundant and in season. You can trust that the seasonal fruits and vegetables will be the tastiest, the most nutritious, and the least expensive on offer.
This is my favorite tip of all. If you live near bakeries or farmers’ markets, there’s a good chance you can catch some great deals at the end of the workday. Since these folks will only sell fresh items, they aim to clear their shelves before they close up shop. If you arrive right before closing time, you may be offered a majorly discounted price.
For the things that have a long shelf life (i.e. dry rice, beans, pasta), scope out the bulk bins at your grocery store and consider stocking up. You’ll find that buying in large quantities saves money, plus it keeps your pantry stocked for quite a while. To keep the goods fresh, store in airtight containers. BONUS: for a huge savings, consider getting the spices you use the most from the bulk section.
Sometimes I deviate from my meal plan when I spot something I’ve never cooked before that’s on sale or just too good looking to pass up. It’s OK to be spontaneous like this, but if it costs more than you bargained for be prepared to skimp on something else to keep your budget balanced.
If I had to define beans in 2 words, I’d say “cheap and versatile.” The top brands of canned beans are usually affordable, but dry beans are about half the price (and cheapest in bulk). But no matter which you choose, you can do so much with them: toss them in salads, blend them in soups, add them to pastas and stir fries, or roast with veggies. The fact that they’re packed with protein makes me love them even more.
A Healthy Bargain
Like most people, I love a bargain. And a bargain when it comes to food is pretty much my version of winning the lottery.
I used to think that if you wanted to save money on a meal it meant you had to sacrifice flavor or quality or nutritional value. But that’s not the case.
I’ve learned that if you’re an organized and smart shopper and are willing to do a bit of prep work, you can maintain a healthy diet without breaking the brank.
And who knows, with all the money I save, one day I may be able to afford the kitchen of my dreams.
Even more This Tiny Blue House posts you might enjoy
- Cash in on your clutter – 12 types of clutter you can sell to organize your home
- How brewing the best cup of coffee saves you thousands
- Reduce food waste by freezing these 25 surprising foods
- Seasonal produce: how to save big on fruits and Veggies with BONUS recipes
- How to save money while being a vegan
I want to hear from you!
How do you eat healthy for less money?