When many people think of eating healthy, they think of pricey, organic foods, prohibitively expensive vegetables, or specialized supplements and meal replacement shakes. However, eating healthier can be good for your bank account as well as for your body. Here are some inexpensive ways to eat healthier.
Choose In-Season, Local Produce
Fruits and vegetables sometimes get a reputation for being expensive. This is partly due to the fact that many produce purchases are made for items that are not in season locally, meaning they had to be trucked in from somewhere far away. The cost of transporting the produce is factored into the cost, thus raising the price. By choosing in-season, locally-grown produce, you mitigate some of this cost.
In addition to being less expensive, produce grown in season contains more nutrients than produce grown out of season. According to mindbodygreen.com, the reason for this is that fruits and vegetables grown out of season cannot grow and ripen naturally, which affects their nutritional content.
Choose More Plant-Based Foods
Choosing plant-based foods for a source of protein can be more cost-effective than choosing meat. Some good sources of plant-based proteins include rice and beans, chickpeas, soybean products, lentils, and almonds, among many others. Medicinenet.com states that regularly replacing meat with plant-based foods can lower the risk of hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. Swapping out meat for other protein sources a few times a week is beneficial for both your finances and your health. However, if you eat mostly plant-based or avoid eating fish, you may want to think about taking omega 3 supplements since omega 3 fatty acids are primarily found in fish.
Eat Out Less
Enjoying a meal at a restaurant can be a fun way to relax and socialize. However, many restaurant and fast food meals contain lots of fat, sodium, sugars, and processed carbohydrates. Eating out often can also be costly, particularly if you are going to sit-down restaurants where tipping is expected and where you may order an alcoholic beverage that is marked up way beyond its profit margin.
Preparing meals and eating at home is less expensive and healthier than eating out, as long as you are careful about the amount of sugar, salt, and oil that you put in the food. Controlling portion sizes is also easier when you prepare your own meals. Restaurants often have very large portion sizes, and there is pressure for some people to continue eating even after they feel full in order to get their money’s worth at the restaurant.
Sometimes, the cheaper and healthier options are where you least expect them to be. For example, health food stores are sometimes viewed as costly, but these places often have nuts, grains, and legumes that you can buy from a bulk section at a lower cost than you would find in a standard grocery store. Member-owned food co-ops will carry whatever items the members decide on, which can include healthy options, and members receive discounts on their purchases. You might also consider purchasing non-perishable food items online if you can find those items for cheaper than your local stores carry them.
Also, keep an eye out for coupons and fliers advertising sales at grocery stores. A healthy item that is pricey at one supermarket chain might be on sale or sold at a discount with a coupon at another chain. If you frequent a particular chain often, it can be useful to get a frequent shopper’s card if they offer one to get further discounts on various items.
Eating healthy is an investment in your health. However, it does not have to be a costly investment, as choosing healthy foods can actually save you money in the long run over choosing less nutritious foods. Keep these ideas in mind if you are interested in inexpensive ways to eat healthier.