As you may already know, eating healthy is more expensive than going to McDonald’s and ordering off the dollar menu. In fact, a significant factor of obesity is that healthy food is not affordable for many people.
“We tend to think about weight as a personal choice: we assume that people make the choice to eat healthy food or to eat junk food. In reality, in this country, it costs more to eat healthy food than it does to eat junk food.
Fast food is easily accessible and it’s filling, but there are many more fat calories than in fresh fruit and vegetables. But fresh fruit and vegetables cost more. Many families don’t have the money to make healthy food choices. So they buy bulk processed food so their kids don’t go hungry. I see that in my practice all the time,” Dr. Gena L. Lewis, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, CA, explained to GreatSchools in a recent interview.
So, how do you eat healthy when you’re on a budget? Whether you’re a college student on a budget, in between jobs, or just want to save money, here are a few handy tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank!
Cook at Home
Everyone knows that home-cooked meals are not only less expensive but they are a better, healthier option, because you can control exactly what is going in your food. When you order out, even if you think it’s something “healthy,” it could be prepared with sneaky, unhealthy ingredients like trans fatty oils, MSG, sugary dressings etc. So, as a starting point you’ll always want to cook your own meals. You’ll not only save money, but you’ll know exactly what you’re eating.
Buy in Bulk
If possible, buy your food in bulk. Foods like yogurt, nuts, oatmeal, grains, etc. have a longer shelf life, so you can buy them in bulk at a better price. For perishable foods such as meats, berries, and vegetables, you can buy and freeze. However, this only works for certain types of produce, so if you’re going to buy produce in bulk, make sure it’s actually edible after you freeze it. In other words, don’t freeze lettuce and bananas!
Avoid Pre-cut, Prepped foods
In case you didn’t know, you pay a premium for those bags of pre-cut vegetables, fruit platters, and salads. Even a pre-marinated chicken breast will cost you more than doing it yourself. If you’re on a tight budget, you should always prep and marinate your own foods.
Farmer’s Markets/Street Stands
Farmer’s markets and street stands tend to be much less expensive for produce than if you buy it at a grocery store. Farmer’s markets are especially good for getting organic food at a reasonable price. Farmer’s markets are also for local produce, so you’ll be helping your neighboring farmers. It’s a win-win situation!
Pre-packing your lunches and day time snacks is the best way to save money and eat healthy. It’s much easier to grab an unhealthy snack or lunch when you’re on the go if you don’t have something nutritious on hand. Always keep a healthy snack bar, nuts or a piece of filling, fibrous fruit such as apples, on hand to avoid costly and unhealthy eating on-the-go.