It may not be New Year’s, but most people often have an ongoing goal to ditch fast food and eat a more balanced diet. Although going to the drive-thru of your local fast food chain is a quick and convenient way to get a large meal at a lower price point, you’ll often pay for this decision later on in life as unhealthy food is packed full of sugars, salt, fat, and other unsightly ingredients that most definitely do not belong in our bodies.
A common misconception is that you must sell a limb to eat healthy, nourishing food every day – but this is very wrong! No matter your budget, it’s easy to come up with a meal plan full of stomach-filling foods that will taste good and make you feel great – without having to worry about spending a small fortune on all of your ingredients.
Why is it important to eat healthy?
It’s no secret that eating healthy is in all of our best interests, not only does a balanced diet fuel our body with all the important vitamins and minerals we need to function, but it can also lower our chance of diseases, helps us to live longer, and keeps every part of our body healthy and functioning properly.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy diet should comprise of the following:
- Fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains
- Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- Less than 12 teaspoons of sugar a day
- Less than one teaspoon of salt a day
When you follow a healthier diet, not only will your body thank you for fuelling it with nutritious food, but you will also feel a lot better mentally. Have you ever noticed that when you’ve not been eating healthy you start to feel more sluggish and tired? It’s because you’re loading your body up with sugar and salt. When you have a healthy, well-balanced diet, you can think clearer, be more alert, and have an improved attention span that helps you perform better.
Tips for eating healthy on a budget
If you want to start eating healthier, it’s not the hardest thing to do. With the following five tips, you’ll be able to start preparing delicious meals for yourself – and your family – that won’t break the bank.
1. Plan your recipes in advance
If you’re serious about eating healthy food, you need to eliminate all options of getting junk food. Ordering a takeaway is very convenient, but to stop yourself from falling into the trap of placing an order when you’re feeling lazy, have a whole week’s worth of meals all planned out beforehand.
Ordering takeaway is not only unhealthy but is also an expensive habit, just one takeaway a week can really add up. By refusing to give in to the temptation, you’ll be saving your hard-earned money to spend on things that are a lot more important – no one wants the stress of a bad credit score just because you can’t kick the habit of getting a takeaway every Friday!
It only takes a few minutes to write down all the recipes you want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day – plus some snacks along the way. Once you’ve got everything written down, it’s off to the supermarket for you to get all of the ingredients.
2. Go to the supermarket with a list
There’s nothing worse than going into a supermarket with no idea what you want to buy – even worse if you’ve gone when you’re feeling hungry – so make sure to have a list written out before you go.
After you’ve created a healthy meal plan for yourself, you should have a good idea of the meals you’ll be preparing in the coming week and how much you’ll need to buy. On your shopping list, be specific about the measurements and amounts you need for each ingredient to ensure you don’t forget anything.
We’re all human, so if you do end up getting some treats for yourself that weren’t on the list, it’s not the end of the world, but stick to your list as much as possible so you don’t stray from your budget and start spending more than you intended.
3. Shop around when needed
If your budget is tight, it’s worth shopping around for different ingredients. As you shop around, you’ll quickly start to realise that different products are much cheaper in different stores, or that you’re able to collect loyalty points quicker at certain supermarkets which brings down the price of your weekly shop.
For example, in some stores buying in bulk can be affordable, but other stores may be better for fresh produce. Start to pay attention to prices as you go on your weekly food shop and dedicate some time to shop around so you can find the best deals.
4. Buy long-life products
You don’t just have to fill your fridge with fresh fruit and vegetables to have a balanced diet, not only is it important to have balance, but these foods will go off very quickly in your fridge if you’re not using them quickly enough.
Buying frozen or canned fruits and vegetables is a good way to get all the nutrients of fresh produce, but they last a lot longer in your freezer or pantry – just make sure that you check ingredients as, particularly in canned food, lots of sugar and salt can sometimes get added.
5. Shop for flexible items
Our final tip is to look at ingredients that can be used across multiple dishes, this will also be important when it comes to planning your meals out as well.
If you choose common ingredients that can be used across various dishes, like tomato paste, certain herbs, and common carbohydrates like potatoes and rice, it’s a much better way to spend your money than ingredients that can only be used for one meal.
Start your journey to a healthier lifestyle
The saying “you are what you eat” is definitely true, so it always pays to fuel your body with a healthy, balanced diet – which can sometimes be easier said than done, especially when you’re on a budget.
Making smarter, healthier food choices is a big lifestyle change, but isn’t one that necessarily has to break the bank. By following the tips we outlined above, you should easily be able to incorporate more nutritious meals into your diet, without having to worry about spending your life’s savings on food.