Can Your Family Eat Healthy on a Budget?
Many people feel it’s not an option to eat healthy on a budget, as it often seems more expensive and time-consuming – especially if you’re trying to feed a family! Let’s face it: Sometimes it’s quicker and easier to pick something up, go out to eat or just skip a meal altogether.
But if it seems like it’s nearly impossible to eat healthy without breaking the bank, you may be pleasantly surprised by these tips to help you and your family eat healthy on a budget!
- Plan your meals. See what’s on sale at the grocery and use that as inspiration to plan your meals for the week. Create a list of ingredients you will need to make each meal, and then search for coupons for your items! Keep in mind that eating ingredients that are in season typically costs less. Don’t forget to plan your snacks! Snack attacks can be budget killers. (Just think about how many times you’ve pulled over for ice cream!) To make sure you’re prepared to handle your family’s mid-afternoon cravings, stock your kitchen with healthy options like fresh fruit, nuts or cheeses.
- Stick to your list. We’ve all been there. You get to the grocery store with just a few specific items in mind… but then those fresh chocolate chip cookies at the bakery catch your eye. The next thing you know, your cart is full of everything except what you came to pick up, and your budget becomes more like, “What budget?!” Arm yourself with a plan. A list of what’s on sale and what you need for the week will keep you organized so you can shop with less distractions. If your local grocery store offers an online shopping service, try buying your groceries this way. It can be an easy method to stay focused on the items you need without the distraction of the ice cream freezer you walk buy to pick up the milk.
- Buy generic. Store-brand versions and generic options are right next to brand names in the aisle and can cost significantly less. You may have a try a few to find the generics that still meet your taste standards. Buying generic products is a great way to start cutting costs at the checkout counter and still eat healthy foods.
- Buy fresh, in-season produce. We all have our favorite fruits and vegetables that we’d love to eat year-round. But, produce isn’t ripe all year round. Sticking to in-season produce is often cheaper and healthier. To see what produce in season, the USDA has a helpful guide. If you’re looking for fruits and veggies that are out of season, it’s better to buy frozen than to buy “fresh” produce that has had either a long journey to the store or has spent a long time in storage. Just make sure you pick the generic bag!
- Cut down on going out for meals. Often, we feel like we don’t have time to eat healthy. For lunch, it’s easier to pick something up or bring a frozen meal. At dinner time, we’re often tired from a long day, and getting take-out, fast food, delivery or just going out to eat can be an easy trap to fall in. Fast food choices can also be harmful to goals for healthy eating. While there’s nothing wrong with going out to dinner from time to time, it’s a bad way bust your budget.
- Meal prep. Choose a time each week to prepare your meals or get your ingredients cleaned, chopped and stored for easy grab-and-go. Prepping or cooking certain items ahead of time and storing them will cut down on the time you spend making meals each day. This can include chopping vegetables, pre-steaming rice or even freezing ingredients for crockpot meals. It will also allow you to prepare easy lunches for yourself and your family. By having your daily meal game plan ready, you’ll avoid the temptation to fall back into old fast food habits.
- Cook often. Even the best chefs had to learn to make eggs for the first time. The more you cook meals for yourself and your family, the more confidence you’ll have. You may even start to enjoy it! The easier it becomes, the more likely you’ll be to stick to your plan.
Eating healthy on a budget may seem impossible; but by following these tips, your wallet and your family will both feel a little better! Need help deciding what to spend on groceries? Try building a family budget to fit your style.