I often hear that cost is one of the biggest reasons as to why people aren't eating healthy. Today, I thought I would share 12 of the same tips that I use in my own home to keep our food costs down and stay within budget.
First off, let me tell you that I didn't always do this. It's taken some practice and some discipline to do it. But eating healthy is an important factor in how I feel.
After gaining weight after having my girls and then packing on even more due to the medication I was on for my Fibromyalgia and Rheumotoid Arthritis, it was critical that I make changes or end up like many of my family members who are suffering from obesity related illnesses.
And that would lead to more medication, more depression, and not living the life that I knew I could if I just made one choice to start living healthier. And the better I ate, the better I felt. BOOM! I could start living life again!!
Are you ready to start living a healthier life? Simply begin taking these 12 tips and apply. You don't have to do them all at once but even those gradual changes over time will help produce results.
1. Buy Family Size Portions of turkey, chicken or beef.
Each week, browse through your supermarket circular for what's on special. I'll often plan our family meals around what's on sale and then prepare it in a variety of ways. Ground turkey for example can make spaghetti, burgers, and toppings for a healthy pizza, a super yummy veggie chili or as a meatloaf. To ease into the transition from ground beef, I used a ½ and ½ ratio. And, guess what!?! No one has figured that out in my house yet. That is until today when they read this article. I also use my "Food Saver" storage system to freeze any extra that I can use for later. In fact, you'll often catch me actually cooking and prepping some meals in advance just because I'm saving time down the road. My girls keep me busy; I feel better when I know I can give them a home cooked meal verses a drive by one.
2. Invest in portion control tools.
If you choose to have snacks in your home, like chips or crackers, invest in some portion control tools. I like the little snack size baggies that are perfect for one serving size. Be sure to check out the nutritional label for the exact amount and then place each serving into a baggie. Both you and the kids will know that one baggie is all you get. I also have measuring cups instead of just guessing. Referring to and sticking with the recommended portion size will help you save both money and extra calories.
3. Eat at home.
I'll be the first one to admit that there are times where I just don't feel like cooking. And, we do go out on occasion. Why? Cause this momma needs a break from time to time. But here's the thing... drinks, appetizers and the main meal add up and especially when you eat out. Making a meal at home is much more affordable and you can often find a healthy version of your favorite meal online these days. And that time saving tip in Tip 1 helps me greatly when I don't feel like cooking.
4. Watch what you eat.
Instead of servings meals on such large plates and in such large bowls, opt for smaller sizes. You'll be surprised at how this one simple tip can help your waistline and stretch your dollar.
5. Simple swaps can add BIG flavor.
Invest in a few herbs that you can easily plant and maintain all year around. Add to dishes and be amazed at what wonderful flavor these herbs add and for A LOT less that a dried version. Some of what I keep are cilantro, basil, oregano and parsley. Also, swap oils for reduced fat broths or even better, make your own chicken or turkey stock. You can add to brown rice, quinoa, etc for even added flavor or saute veggies.
6. Make your own dessert.
Most store bought desserts a larger dose of sugar than what we need and are way too expensive. You can enjoy homemade fruit popsicles, banana or zucchini breads or Shakeology ice cream without the guilt by eating a healthier version.
7. Cook with whole grain pasta (or a low carb version).
A box is inexpensive, healthier than regular pasta and you'll eat much less than the portions served out when you combine it with in season veggies. One of my favorites is so simple... pasta, extra virgin oil, diced veggies sprinkled with a little parm cheese.
8. Pack your own snacks.
If you know that you're going to be out running the kids to practice or you know that you'll want to snack while at work, pack your own snacks. You'll be less tempted to snack on some less than healthier options as well as save money that would end up in the vending machine. I keep Shakeology, almonds, an apple and a P90X bar in my purse so I'm less tempted. I know myself. If I get hungry and let it go for too long, I make poor choices.
9. Make your own flavored coffee at home.
Once again, you'll save so much money over the course of a year and extra calories. You can then chose the amount of sugar, skim milk verses whole, reduced fat whipped topping and so much more. Plus, it's fun whipping up your own specialty drink.
10. Plan your meals.
When you have a plan in place, it's easier to stay on track. Plan and pack your meals so you'll also have something healthier and less expensive on hand.
11. If you must eat out, skip the super size.
You might think you're getting the best value for your money but over time, this choice ends up costing many folks. It starts as a few extra pounds then can turn into much more... medications, illnesses, etc.
12. Buy in season and locally.
Local Farmer's Markets typically have the freshest and healthiest choices and are able to keep costs down because they aren't transporting if from all over. If you're like me, where there are only a few months out of the year where this is an option, your "Food Saver" can come in hand.
I buy fresh veggies, prep and then freeze to use throughout the winter months. There's nothing worse than buying what should be a pack of fresh strawberries and having to toss them because they looked good at the store and then didn't last when you got home.
So, as you can see, these are really easy tips that anyone can apply.