Eating well doesn’t have to break the bank. With some thoughtful planning and smart choices, you can enjoy a nutritious and balanced diet while sticking to a budget. Here are some tips on eating well without emptying your wallet.
1. Plan Your Meals
This is one of the most effective ways to eat well on a budget. Meal planning not only helps you make healthier choices but also saves you money. Start by creating a weekly meal plan, and consider using ingredients that are versatile and can be used in multiple recipes.
2. Buy in Bulk
Buying staple foods like pasta, rice, beans, and canned vegetables in bulk can save you a significant amount of money over time. These items have a long shelf life and are excellent for creating budget-friendly, nutritious meals.
3. Embrace Frozen and Canned Foods
Frozen produce is often just as nutritious as the fresh stuff, and they have a longer shelf life, reducing the risk of food waste. Opt for low-sodium canned foods (e.g. unsalted crushed tomatoes, unsalted canned beans) and plain frozen fruits and vegetables without added sauces or sugar.
4. Cook at Home
Eating out can quickly drain your wallet. Cooking at home also allows you to have more control over what goes into your meals and portion sizes. It will pay off to invest in basic cooking skills and experiment with homemade versions of your favourite restaurant meals.
5. Prioritize Protein
Protein is an essential part of a balanced diet, and there are budget-friendly options available. While meat can be one of the more expensive aspects of your grocery bill, eggs, canned tuna, chicken thighs, and legumes like lentils and chickpeas are excellent sources of protein that won’t break the bank.
6. Shop Seasonal and Local
Fruits and vegetables that are in season are often more affordable and tastier. Check out local farmers’ markets and grocery stores for fresh produce that won’t cost you a fortune. Choose varieties that you can freeze or store well for a longer shelf life.
7. Use Coupons and and Discounts
Keep an eye out for coupons, discounts, and sales at your local grocery store. Many stores will price-match to save you from going to multiple different grocery stores. Also, consider joining store loyalty programs for extra savings. Meat reduced to “enjoy tonight”? Freeze it for another day! (Tip: did you know if you bring your own containers to Bulk Barn on a Sunday, you save an extra 15%?)
8. Minimize Food Waste
Plan your meals to use up ingredients before they go bad, freeze meat, and get creative with leftovers. You can turn yesterday’s roasted vegetables into a delicious soup or incorporate extra rice into a stirfry.
9. Limit Processed Foods
Processed and convenience foods may seem cheap, but they often come with hidden costs. These items tend to be high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Oftentimes, purchasing fresh ingredients and preparing your own will save you money and your body will thank you.
10. Stay Hydrated Economically
Water is the best and most budget-friendly way to stay hydrated. Invest in a reusable water bottle to save on the cost of bottled drinks and reduce your sugar intake.
Eating well on a budget is entirely achievable with the right strategies in place. By planning your meals, buying in bulk, cooking at home and making smart choices with your leftovers, you can nourish your body without straining your finances. Working with a Registered Dietitian can provide personalized guidance and ensure you’re meeting your nutrition requirements even on a tight budget.