It’s a new year and your resolution is to lose those last few pesky inches from your waistline. Unfortunately, you’ve become accustomed to a diet laden with cheap fast food, potato chips and candy bars. You don’t know where to begin with trying to incorporate healthier food into your diet, let alone your budget.
The good news is, it’s really not that expensive to adopt healthy eating habits, even if you have a limited budget. It is just a matter of taking steps to master a few tricks. Read on to learn some valuable advice on how to lose weight quickly and eat healthy without breaking the bank.
One of the most important methods of saving money on healthy foods is to plan ahead and be prepared before the food even goes into your cart. Don’t wait until you arrive at the grocery store to plan your purchases, because you will be too vulnerable to the latest ads and the tyranny of your own appetite.
Create a monthly budget and stick to it, so if you mess up and make a foolish purchase during the first week of the month, you can make up for it towards the end of the month, after you get the hang of saving money on groceries.
Next, plan the meals your family is going to have for the upcoming week. Try to plan your meals around what items are on sale in the flyer of your local grocery store. This will help train you to follow the sales each week, while limiting spur-of-the-moment purchases which often involve junk food.
Looks for Sales and Discounts
There’s no need to leave your favorite grocery store as long as you scour your weekly flyer and take advantage of coupons. However, remember that you’re not saving money if you’re buying items merely because you have a coupon for them. Stick to coupons for the foods you have already included in your weekly meal plan. Also, if your store offers loyalty card, it would behoove you to sign up for one, as you will be able to take advantage of a variety of deals and rewards for any points you accumulate on your purchases.
Additionally, you may also want to consider checking out discount store, such as Walmart if you are in the US or Asda in the UK, or joining a store, such as Costco or Sam’s Club. The everyday prices in these stores are often, but not always, cheaper. Membership stores such as Costco can also save you money by allowing you to buy in bulk; if that’s a feasible option for you and the space you have to work with.
Generics, Generics, Generics — the secret to healthy eating on a limited budget
If you truly want to save money on healthy food, you’re going to have to open up your mind to generics. Often, when you make a brand-name food purchase, you are paying for the fancy packaging and the advertising that goes with it. Generic food is often just as good in quality, but with lower prices because there are no frills attached. However, this isn’t always the case, so the best way to find out is through trial and error. Give generics a chance, and you’ll be surprised how much they can lower your grocery bill.
Opt for canned or frozen produce
While it’s always nice to purchase fresh produce, canned and frozen produce is often cheaper and they last a lot longer. Both choices contain all of the nutrients of their fresh counterpoints, although canned food will contain more preservatives than the other two. Also, when purchasing canned items, try to purchase ones canned in 100 percent fruit juice.
Get creative with leftovers
One of the reasons that planning your weekly meals is so important is because you can purchase food that can be made in two or three different ways. Thus, instead of throwing out what’s left over after your meals, try using them to make a casserole, soup, or sandwich for the next day’s lunch. If possible, try doubling up on your recipe ingredients so you can make more portions. Initially it will be more of an expense, but it will save you money in the long run. Simply store your leftover ingredients in the refrigerator or freezer until you use them again.
Know your Store
At most grocery stores, a good rule of thumb is to focus on the outskirts of the store. That’s where you’re going to find your healthier, unprocessed foods, such as produce and meat. The inner aisles of the store are more of a danger zone, as they typically contain unhealthy sodas, sugar-laden sweets and processed junk food. Also, for the best deals, don’t focus on the items directly at eye-level. Be sure to look at what’s available above and below, as that’s where the cheaper items tend to be located.
Shop at Farmer’s Markets
Buy shopping at farmer’s markets. Not only will you be able to save money, but you’ll be able to find fresher food, all while supporting your local farmers. Some of the food you find there may have been picked that very same day, and by cutting out the supermarket in its role as the middle man, you’ll have the opportunity to save more money.
Shop in season
Always try to buy your fruits and vegetables in season. Not only will you save money, but you will also be helping the environment as the out-of-season produce won’t be shipped from greater distances.
Remember the ‘Dirty Dozen’
Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases a list of produce that have been heavily affected by pesticides and chemicals. Known as the “Dirty Dozen, “these are the fruits and vegetables that you’re going to want to purchase in their organic forms. However, EWG also releases a “safe” list of fruits and vegetables that have a relatively low risk of containing pesticide residues, and these are the ones you can get away with buying conventionally.
Fruits and vegetables that often make the Dirty Dozen list and should therefore be purchased organic include apples, grapes, peaches, kale and cherry tomatoes. However, produce such as eggplant, avocados and bananas often make the “safe” list. A little research can go a long way in determining where you can cut corners, and where you need to splurge for the sake of your health.
Opting for healthy eating doesn’t necessarily involve spending loads of money buying expensive produce or foods. A little bit of planning, forward thinking and re-organisation could go a long way to help you adopt such better eating habits. Such habits can go a long way to help keep your weight and your health at a very good level. If you are overweight and looking to lose weight quickly, incorporating some of these into your weight loss strategy can put you in a good position to help you get rid of the excess fat for the leaner healthier body of your dreams