Last Updated on April 3, 2017 by Michael Brockbank
A lot of people have a misconception that it takes a great deal of money to go on a diet or to eat healthier. While it’s true many cheap foods are not the best thing to put into your body, you don’t have to resort to eating junk when you’re on a budget. In fact, simply controlling portion sizes when serving meals can make a huge impact in your grocery bill. What can you do to eat healthy while being thrifty?
How to Eat Healthy While On the Cheap
Too many people get sucked into the idea that they need to buy their way into a healthy lifestyle. Just because there is a “healthy” logo on a package, manufacturers can increase the price tag because they know consumers will pay for it. In reality, it doesn’t cost a lot to eat healthy. Even foods that are “bad” by themselves have potential for improvements.
Buying Off-brand Foods
Of course most people know that off-branded items are usually the cheapest way to go when grocery shopping. In many cases, I’ve even found the generic-branded stuff to be better than big corporate names. A lot of the time, the health value between generic and big brands is relatively even.
Perhaps one of the major concerns of people is that of growth hormones and pesticide use. Organic foods are often more expensive because people are willing to pay for it. If consumers were less likely to spend more money on “healthy” foods, organic would be cheaper. It’s the law of supply and demand.
At any rate, buying off-brands is a good way to save when you simply don’t have the money.
Proper Portion Sizes
One of the best ways to save money to eat healthy is understanding proper portion sizes. I cannot stress this point enough within the blog. Many of us are grossly overfed, especially in the United States. Trust me, a 16 ounce porterhouse steak is far more than what you should be eating in one dinner. In fact, this is about five meals worth of meat.
Most experts agree that three ounces of meats is a good portion size for a single serving. Whether you’re on Lean for Life, Atkins or any other diet plan that is not vegan or vegetarian, the consensus is three ounces as a base.
Controlling portions is something a lot of people have a problem with. Unfortunately, places like restaurants and fast-food joints fool consumers into buying huge amounts of food because it’s a “deal.” Remember, cheap doesn’t mean healthy. Sure, you might save a bunch of money in comparison to other meal plans on the menu, but it’s simply too much food for a single sitting.
Spend a bit of time to learn how to control portion sizes. You won’t believe just how cheap it is to really eat healthy until you break down the proper sizes of your meals. Most of the things you buy at the store will actually stretch two to three times longer when you do.
Accentuate with Veggies
If you have to survive off of cheap meals, there’s nothing wrong with adding a few vegetables to increase the nutritional value. For instance, half of a package of ramen is actually a serving size. Toss in 1/8 of a cup of onions, and it’s a serving of goodness.
Almost any cheap meal can be accentuated with vegetables. It all depends on how creative you want to get. Personally, I’ll toss onions and mushrooms into just about anything. Not only does this stretch the sizes of the servings, but it can vastly increase the health value.
I’ll enhance my cheap foods with veggies and then still only serve a certain portion size. For instance, if I added a cup of chopped mushrooms and an one-eighth cup of onions to macaroni and cheese, I’ll still scoop the recommended portion size for the macaroni. Already, I am eating fewer carbs and calories while increasing the health value from the onions and mushrooms.
When I find a home, I’ll start making videos on ways to enhance cheap edibles.
Grow Your Own Foods
A lot of people will grow their own foods to keep the grocery budget low. This is doable regardless if you live in the city or in the country. Thanks to things like indoor gardens, you can essentially grow your own foods year-round. As long as you can simulate light, temperature and moisture, almost anything can be grown in the house.
Although maintaining your own garden takes a bit of dedication, especially when you’re feeding a family, it can be an excellent opportunity. Not only can gardening provide food, but it can also be relaxing and therapeutic. In fact, I know a lot of people who grow various plants simply because it helps ease stress levels.
Growing your own foods also gives you superior ability to produce organic edibles. You control pesticides and what goes into your plant. It’s the only way to be 100% sure that you are consuming exactly what you want.
Grow some fruits and buy a food dehydrator. This is exceptionally awesome when you have children. Natural sugars and vitamins are stored in a dried chunk of fruit, which has a much longer shelf-life than anything you can pick up at the store. Well, except for Twinkies which will outlive us all.
Learn Some Recipes
One of the biggest expense that comes from eating is that of convenience. Processed foods, drive-through windows and even cheap restaurants are all providing the service of preparing your meals. In the grand scheme of things, you could eat healthy just by learning how to do it yourself.
I believe people who say they can’t cook are really saying, “I’m too lazy to stand in the kitchen for 30 minutes or so.” If you can read, you can cook. It’s that simple. In most instances all it takes is the ability to follow a recipe. And a lot of them are not all that hard to do.
Personally I love cooking. For me, it’s therapeutic and it allows me to control something within an uncontrollable world. There’s nothing like the satisfaction when a smothered garlic chicken you made comes out to perfection.
Again, I plan on creating my own nutritional cookbook on this site once I get into my own place. There are a lot of things I want to do that people here will simply interrupt.
Eat Healthy On a Budget
It literally pays to be prudent while grocery shopping. Sure you can save a ton of money by purchasing things that are extremely cheap, such as ramen noodles. But that doesn’t mean these things have to become standard staples. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to eat healthy whether you want to lose weight or combat diabetes. You shouldn’t have to take out a loan to eat smarter.