Once you seriously decide to eat a healthier diet, the challenges continue. You have to create a nutritious portable snacks, and come up with wholesome breakfasts you can eat on the go. Revamp sources for protein, beneficial fats, and carbs. Tweak dinner party menus to keep them nourishing without losing flavor and mouthfeel appeal. For this reason, some people will turn to a meal prep delivery service in order to get an already prepared meal to aid with maintaining a healthy diet. However, there are others who would prefer preparing their own meals.
After you’ve done all that, it’s time to shop. During the first stroll through the produce department, you can almost feel your wallet getting lighter. All those fresh fruits and vegetables you planned to buy are really pricey. And you haven’t even explored the seafood, cheese and meat counters, where items are even more expensive.
Don’t despair; you can afford to eat healthy without going broke. These easy tips make eating healthful food on a budget easy and satisfying.
Invest in a few quality dried spices and herbs. Learn how to use them to transform all kinds of foods from bland to gourmet. A good bottle of extra virgin olive oil will last for a year or so if used sparingly and appropriately (no frying or sauting). Balsamic vinegar is another wise indulgence. It enhances both salad dressings and many sliced fresh fruits and berries.
Meat, fish and poultry are typically the most costly components of dinner. Instead of thinking of them as a main course, switch things up. Make vegetables, fruits, grains and seeds your main dishes and serve one of the pricey proteins as a side dish. Not only does changing the face of your plates save you money, it makes for a healthier meal.
Make Better Shopping Choices
Avoid pretentious stores with overpriced items arranged in artistic designs. Patronize a full-service bargain supermarket instead. If you have a craving for ethnic cooking, buy the ingredients at ethnic markets. You’ll get a better, fresher, more authentic variety of choices and pay up to 50 percent less on many items. Instead of being first in line at the farmers’ market, shop for produce around 30-45 minutes before closing. Prices are slashed during this time to avoid having to haul the food back to the farm. You might also want to consider meal delivery services. No trips to the store mean no impulse buys from the deals that are strategically placed in your eye line. Choosing from the number of delivery services available can be tough, but there are comparisons available such as Marley Spoon vs Blue Apron to help you choose.
Preparing a weekly menu plan simplifies your life and saves money and time. Start by checking the sale papers for local markets. Make lists of breakfast, lunch and dinner meal based on sale items. Create different and delicious meals from leftovers. For instance, roast a chicken for Sunday dinner. On Tuesday, use the leftovers for tacos or enchiladas. On Thursday, pick the chicken off the carcass and simmer the bones to create a rich broth. Make a chicken vegetable soup for easy weekend dining.
Organize Your Frig and Pantry
Spend an hour going through your dry and canned goods and refrigerator. Make a list of what you find. Many items that are shoved to the back and forgotten can be used to create new dishes. Using food you already have on hand saves money and frees up space for future purchases.
Embrace Canned and Dry Goods
Canned and dry foods are perfect for quick meals and extra flavoring. Canned beans and tomatoes with dried spices and fresh vegetables make excellent chili in a jiffy. Choose low sodium varieties and/or rinse them under cool running water to reduce salt and sodium. Get great fish benefits from salmon patties made with canned salmon at half the price of fresh salmon. Dried beans, rice, lentils and pasta are healthy and add texture and flavor to soups and casseroles. Creatively dressed and season, they also serve as savory sides.
Cook Bargain Cuts of Meat
Slow cooking or braising less expensive cuts of meat transforms them into juicy and succulent main courses. Pork butt and beef chuck roasts (bone-in is the most economical) become fork tender when gently cooked over very low heat for 6 or 7 hours. You can use a slow cooker or simply braise them in the oven at 250-75 degrees F for the same length of time. Be sure to cook them in a small amount of liquid and add liquid every few hours if needed. Bone-in chicken thighs also benefit from low and slow cooking. Add roughly chopped fresh vegetables during the last couple hours and you have a complete meal.