Healthy eating doesn’t have to cost a lot. Instead, adopt these five inexpensive healthy habits!
It’s a new year, and many of us are trying to eat better than we did at the end of 2017. But with this newfound effort can come new high costs, making our healthy eating plan unsustainable for more than a month or two.
With a little strategizing, healthy meal preparation can be downright cheap. Less expensive even than grabbing processed foods or unhealthy takeout. I’ve been following these strategies for several years now, and even though our family has grown by two people, we don’t spend more than we did a few years ago.
Below are five of my tips for saving money on healthy food.
Cook a weekly batch of dry beans. Every Sunday I cook a pot of beans, which I then use as a base for soup, stew, salad and even hummus-style dips throughout the week. This makes weeknight meals super easy, as well as delicious. Picking a different dry bean each week will allow you to make all different kinds of meals and appetizers, so dinner stays interesting in addition to inexpensive. Here are some of my favorite bean-based dishes:
- Quick Chickpea Salad
- Turkish Red Lentil Soup
- Morroccan Chickpea Soup
- Chocolate Chip Hummus
- Three-Color Hummus
- Healing Lemon Chicken Soup
Buy unpackaged produce. At first glance it may seem more inconvenient to wash your own lettuce, peel and slice your own carrots, or cut up a head of broccoli. But if you “process” your produce after getting home from the store, it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to have everything washed and ready for the whole week. Getting into this habit can save a significant amount of money, and you get a lot more produce for your buck!
Plan only 2-3 days of meals at a time. It’s easy to get overambitious on the weekend, leading you to plan and buy food for an entire week of meals. But the realities of modern life mean that unplanned things happen! Instead, aim to plan 2-3 dinners and leave the rest of the nights open for last minute events, cravings for pizza, eating leftovers, etc. This will save money, time, effort and food waste. On the “off” nights, make simple things that don’t require a recipe, like snack platters, cheese omelets, salads, smoothie bowls, etc. Or check out:
- 50 Kid-Friendly Meal and Snack Ideas
- 5 Easy Dinners without a Recipe
- 5 Super Quick Dinners with No Recipe
Buy less food. American households throw away 30% of what they buy. Think about all the money you’d save it you bought only what you could eat! Side bonus: being more efficient with your food will help you enjoy what you’re eating more, and be gentler on the planet. Use meal planning tools to be increase your efficiency in the kitchen. Some of my favorite meal planning tools:
Eat more vegetarian meals. Hate tofu? No problem. There are a million other satisfying vegetarian meals – yes even for devoted meat eaters. From a fried egg to garbanzo beans to tempeh (try this Lemon Pepper Tempeh; save time by sautéing it until the juice is absorbed instead of baking) — vegetarian proteins can be satisfying and inexpensive. Here are some great resources for plant-based cooking: