How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
September 13, 2012
September 13, 2012
One of the biggest struggles we encounter with people who do a Beachbody program with us, like P90X or Insanity is nutrition. Everyone wants to eat healthy but everyone thinks it costs more. The P90X Nutrition guide and the Insanity Nutrition Guide are probably the most important tool with the programs. If you don’t eat healthy, you’re just going to spin your wheels and get discouraged and eventually quit. Maybe this is you in the past? Let’s make that a memory.
In today’s economically challenged environment, it may seem like processed is all you can afford. How does one eat healthy on a budget? It takes some practice to find a balance between spending too much on food and trying to eat healthy. It is not as easy as buying a box of carbohydrates and processed cheese that is true, but you are up to the challenge. With a little guidance, you can learn how to eat right without breaking the bank.
Make a List
It seems too simple, but you will be surprised the benefits that come with just getting organized when it comes to your diet. Sit down one day a week and write out meal plans. This is how you control what you eat to stay on a healthy path. Once you create a week’s worth of meals and snacks, make a list of groceries from your menu. The goal is to go to the store and only buy what is on the list, no impulse shopping for you. You save on money and calories. The Beachbody Meal Planner is a great tool for this as well as many other smart phone apps etc.
Make the Most of Your List
Now that you have a list of healthy meals for the coming week and groceries to buy, start collecting relevant coupons. The Internet is a couponer’s best friend. You can look online for coupons to print out. Go through the print ads you get in the mail and in newspapers looking for sales. For example, one store may have fresh fruit on sale every Tuesdays as an alternative to hitting the farmer’s market. Do what you canbased on your schedule. If you have the time to visit three different stores to save, then do it.
Buy in Season
A healthy diet is full of pretty greens and fresh produce. These foods are often the most expensive. One way to save is to buy in season. For example, in the middle of winter is the wrong time to look for watermelon. During the summer months, you might find it on sale, however. When you are creating your menus, keep in mind that produce should be in season to save. Organic foods are better for you, but it is not necessary to be 100 percent organic to stay healthy. Concentrate on foods with thick skins. The skin protects the heart of the produce from pesticides, so buying organic is a waste. Onions, watermelon, avocados – these foods all have nice thick skins, so don’t spend extra for organic produce.
What about Homegrown?
Gardening is a fantastic way to get exercise, and not all gardens require an acre in the backyard and every moment of your free time. If you have limited space, consider planting a few things in containers that sit on the patio, rooftop or deck. Tomato plants are a good option. If that sounds like too much, everyone has room for an herb garden on their windowsill. Grow what you can, when you can.
Don’t Skip the Frozen Vegetables
Save money on frozen when you can. Frozen vegetables are sometimes as good, if not better, then fresh, and they cost less. Produce loses nutritional value the longer it sits off the vine. Frozen fruits and vegetables stop degrading as soon as they are frozen. This means frozen may have more nutritional value then fresh produce. Frozen vegetables lose value when you cook them wrong. Steam the vegetables instead of boiling them to get the most out of broccoli and carrots.
Some foods just make sense in bulk – beans and brown rice are two of them. When you combine these two foods together, you create what medical professionals call a complete protein. This means these two foods side by side contain all the amino acids your body needs for optimum health. They are inexpensive and store well in bulk form, so you can spend less on animal protein.
While you are buying in bulk, stop hand picking apples, oranges and potatoes. Buy a full bag when it is available. A bag gives you more for less money. You can look for healthy grains in bulk, as well. Oatmeal is economical, good for you and easy to dress up with fruit and a touch of brown sugar.
Eating on the Run
We live in a world of big portions. You can use that to your advantage when eating at a restaurant. If you are with a friend, split a plate and the check to save calories and money. If you are by yourself grabbing a quick lunch, ask the server to pack half the plate in a takeout container before bringing it to the table. You still are eating less and now you have lunch for two days, as well.
A healthy diet doesn’t have to be expensive. It does have to be well thought out, however. The key to eating right while living on a budget is planning. Set time aside each week to organize your diet. That hour or two will save you in long run, and keep you eating healthy too.
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