At some point, almost everyone living the frugal life discovers that one of the hardest things to do is live a healthy style when trying to work with a tight budget.
The price of food is constantly rising, however, your paycheck isn’t. Worse yet, if you're a student, you actually need all of those healthy fats, proteins, lean meats, and good carbohydrates for energy and proper brain function for intensive studying.
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your health just to keep some money in your pocket. Follow the steps below to learn how you can eat the healthiest foods around without going completely broke.
1. Track your spending.
You need to know where your extra money is going. If you start to track your budget and learn where you're spending your money, you'll have more to spend on healthier foods. Most people don’t do this part because they find it tedious and boring. Software such as YNAB (You Need A Budget) has been created to address that exact problem.
Remember, the most important part of tracking your spending and creating a budget is adhering to it. If you’re not going to stick to it, there’s no point in having one. Control your pockets and you’ll soon discover that you’ll always have the money you need when it’s time to hit the supermarket.
2. Prepare your food at home.
When you prepare your food at home, you're able to see what you put in it. You know exactly what you’re cooking it with as opposed to what other people who prepare your food might put into it. Some of their ingredients can possibly contain more calories than you’d care to consume. If you prepare your food at home, you eliminate the potential for that.
You should also eat before you actually go out to eat. If you know you're going to have an engagement with friends, eat something at home first. You're less likely to overeat when you're out and spend more money out of your budget. Take along nuts, fruits, and other small snacks to feel less hungry when you're out with friends or shopping. This works especially well when you know there's going to be access to food and restaurants. You simply won’t be as tempted to spend more money.
3. Stop buying food on an impulse.
Not planning at all is planning to fail. If you’re going to successfully live the frugal life, a plan is simply mandatory. When you go to the grocery store, make yourself a list. Only allow that list to consist of about two weeks’ worth of food. Know exactly what you're going to get and get out of there. Don't stick around looking for new stuff to try. If it’s not on your list, you don’t leave the store with it.
You might not have considered this before, but you should really avoid taking people with you when you go food shopping. When you have people with you and they start buying stuff, it’s easier for you to be tempted to buy what they’re getting and/or recommending. Going alone may not be as fun but remember, you’re shopping with a purpose.
Make sure you make that list ahead of time and you will start to see your budget increase. You’ll discover that you will have more money to do the things you enjoy.
4. Do your shopping close to home.
There’s no real logic behind shopping at 12 different stores to find 1 bargain. Time is money and gas! You're probably burning gas and wasting time going to numerous places. Certainly, there are one or two grocery stores around that can provide almost everything you need. Of course, there are places where you can stop in and find other things as well, but they should be along your way. Do some research and figure out what two places have most of the deals and/or steady prices that you're used. Skip out on wasting gas trying to go to a million different places to find one deal.
Examples of healthy food to buy:
What good would all this advice be if it didn’t provide you with some examples of what types of healthy foods you should be buying? Since this is about eating healthy while being frugal, here is a list of some awesome foods from the major food groups that you can buy for under five dollars:
Healthy Whole Grains
· Whole Grain Pastas
· Brown Rice
· Sweet Potatoes
· Chicken Breast
Other Healthy Foods
· Black Beans
· Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
· Low-Fat or Fat-Free Skim Milk
· Greek Yogurt
5. Stop popping bottles.
No, not “popping bottles” in the sense of champagne at the club. This tip simply refers to the waste buying individual bottles of water creates. Just invest in a Brita pitcher or something similar. One filter on a Brita cleans 40 gallons of water. You do the math. You will still be drinking tap water, but it will be filtered and taste a little better.
6. Buy cheaper protein.
You need healthy proteins to burn fat and build muscle. The more proteins you have, the more fat you can burn — especially when you exercise. Save the expensive steak and lobster for later or for special occasions. You don't need that to build healthy muscle and lose fat. You can buy protein cheap. The best part about this tip is you’ll be doing it all on a healthy budget.
7. Buy generic foods.
A lot of people think that it's healthier to buy something they saw on TV. Go and compare your neighborhood store’s brands to the brands that you think are more popular. A lot of times, you'll be surprised to find that they have just as many nutrients at half the price. At first, you'll swear you can taste the difference, but give it some time and eventually, it won’t be noticeable.
As you can see, living the frugal life doesn’t mean you also must be unhealthy. You can easily obtain all the proper foods you need without breaking the bank. Remember to keep track of your spending and follow your budget. Good luck on your journey.
Now that you know how to afford all of your healthy dietary needs, you might want to check out The 5 Best Tips To Help You Diet Successfully.
Alex Moore is a West Virginia University recent graduate, a healthy lifestyle hacker and online contributor for Lovely Corral. His most burning desire is to evolve as a healthy lifestyle professional writer. Find Alex on Twitter @Alex_Moore01