Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

Healthy eating on a budget doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, once you develop a habit of shopping for and cooking up tasty, fresh food, you might never go back to packaged, processed or fast food again. For the athlete on a budget, the following tips may help you make better, cheaper meals that taste fabulous and trim your waistline... along with your food bill.

Drink More Water and Less of Everything Else

Cultura RM/Rimagine Group Limited/Subjects/Getty Images

Let go of sodas, juices, soy lattes, alcohol and fancy energy drinks in favor of water and you will make an enormous dent in your grocery budget and likely improve your health in the process. Depending on where we live, most of us don't need to pay for drinking water, and you can make it more interesting with slices of fresh fruit and herbs.

Buy More Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables can be as nutritious as many fresh vegetables because they are frozen shortly after picked. In some cases and particularly during the winter months, frozen may be even fresher than what you'll find at your local grocery store - after all, how much time elapses between a vegetable being picked and your consuming it? The best frozen vegetable choices include broccoli, peas, carrots, spinach, and mixed vegetables for your next stir fry.

Cook Enough to Have Leftovers

One-pot dishes like stir-fry, soups and stews made at home with fresh or frozen vegetable, lean meats, tofu, olive oil and fresh spices are satisfying and inexpensive meals that go a long way. Package up leftovers for the next day's lunch or freeze them to consume whenever a craving hits.

Invest in Reusable Food Storage Containers

If there is one area to invest in that can help you save money and eat healthy, it may be by purchasing quality, reusable food storage containers. Different size and shapes that are microwave-safe and easy to pack and carry increase the likelihood that you'll bring healthy snacks and meals with you. Packing leftovers the night before or making several lunches at a time will ultimately help you control your portion size and you'll eat fresh for less.

Compare prices on Food Storage Containers

Support Your Local Farmer's Market

Not only will you support your local economy, but you will find high quality, fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables that are often organic. Local farmers can often provide a better price because they have less overhead and transportation costs. Talk with the growers, learn about their produce and favorite ways to prepare it, and you may find some new favorite recipes and healthy meals.

Give Up Breakfast Cereals

Breakfast cereals are not only expensive, but most offer little nutritional bang for the buck. And although the label may say it has 12 servings, do you know anyone who manages to eat just "one serving" of cereal at a time? You're far better off with homemade oatmeal or a simple hard-boiled egg with fruit and whole grain toast.

Limit Processed, Packaged and Single Serving Foods

It may be a bit more work initially to make your own sandwich, soups or salads, but the effort will save you big bucks. The price you pay for one or two packaged sandwiches at the deli could buy the fixings for a week's worth of homemade lunches. Additionally, you control what you put in it -- and have a sandwich you love as a result.

Cut Out the Energy Bars and Drinks

Choose a Banana Instead of an Energy Bar
Athletes: Go Bananas!. RossLand / Getty Images

Energy bars and beverages may be convenient and nutrient-dense, but they are expensive and can easily be replaced by less costly "real food." Consider as replacements: an apple, a banana, a handful of dried fruit & nuts, about 3 fig newtons, or a sandwich with tuna or cheese and tomato. Wash it down with water and you've replenished your energy stores and saved yourself some cash.

Eat Out Less Often

Eating out is not only expensive, but frequently unhealthy. Restaurant food is often full of fat and calories hidden in sauces, oils and butter. And while fast food lunches may appear to be fast, convenient and cheap, the lack of nutritional value is the real price you'll pay.

Share Entrees

If you like to eat out, or have a lifestyle that includes going to restaurants, you don't have to give it up to save money. But think about what you order and how much you consume at one meal. Most restaurant portions are massive, and far more than we need to consume. But face it, we tend to eat what's in front of us and when dining out, that means usually we overeat. Why not consider sharing an entree? Chinese, Thai and Italian cuisine is perfect for sharing. Another way to eat out and save money is by taking advantage of happy hour menus when the same meal is about half-price.

Continue Reading