The new year is the perfect time to kick start healthy habits, but getting healthy doesn’t happen with workouts alone. You are what you eat, so you want to eat what’s right, but that usually means a higher bill at the grocery store. Eating healthy on a limited budget may seem impossible, but with a little time, planning, and strategic shopping, you can eat healthier, and stay on budget. These tips on meal planning and shopping on a budget will help you keep your workout goals on track all year long.
Importance of Healthy Meal Planning
Planning your meals for the week is the best place to start. Meal planning will help you make sure you are including enough foods from each food group—pay special attention to serving enough fruits and vegetables in with your meals. Deciding on a week of meals ahead of time helps you achieve a healthy balance. For example, if you plan to serve a food higher in fat or salt, you can plan low-fat or low-salt foods to go with it. If you know you will be doing a weekly workout, you can plan meals high in protein to help your muscles rebuild more effectively.
In addition, planning your meals saves time and money. By making a shopping list, you will know what food you already have, and what food you need, in addition to avoiding pricey “impulse” buys. Meal planning also means fewer trips to the grocery store and helps you make use of leftover food and ingredients.
Healthy Meal Planning Tips
Follow these tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your money:
- Build the main part of your meal around rice, noodles, or other grains. Use smaller amounts of meat, poultry, and fish.
- Add variety to favorite dishes and try new, low-cost recipes. There are many online resources for finding healthy recipes.
- Try new ways to cook foods, such as a slow cooker or crock-pot, to make meals easier to prepare.
- Make use of leftovers to save time and money. For instance, if you make a pot roast, serve half of it and freeze the rest to use in later meals.
- When time allows, cook large batches of certain foods and freeze family-size portions for meals later in the month.
Tips for Shopping
Use the tips below to help you grocery shop on a budget:
- After planning your meals, make a list of all the foods you need (don’t forget to check the kitchen first!)
- Look for coupons in the local newspaper or online for the foods you plan to buy.
- Avoid convenience foods (baked goods, frozen meals, etc.); you can usually make these at home much cheaper and can control the nutritional value as well.
- Try generic, store brands. They usually cost less, taste just as good and have the same nutritional value.
- When buying produce, buy what is in season. Compare fresh, frozen, and canned to see which is cheapest.
- Buy only the amount of a food that you and your family will eat before it spoils.
- Read food labels and choose foods with less fat, sodium or calories, and more vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- When your budget allows, buy extra, low-cost nutritious foods like potatoes and frozen vegetables. These foods keep well and can be put into a variety of recipes
Healthy eating doesn’t have to break your fitness goals or your bank account. With a little extra planning, you can enjoy the benefits of healthy eating, boost your workout performance, improve recovery, and feel better overall. Your health should be your top priority, and with these tips, you don’t have to sacrifice health on a budget. For more ways to protect your health, call 724-929-2300. We’ll get you a health insurance policy tailored to your needs at the lowest price to further your savings!