To those who are living paycheck to paycheck, maintaining a healthy diet may seem out of reach. When it feels like consuming pricey “superfoods” is the only way to eat healthy, how are you expected to keep up? The truth is, a healthy diet isn’t out of your reach if you’re equipped with the right tools and know where to look! Healthy, affordable food is all over the place if you know what you’re after. To help you with the process of budget meal planning, we’ve put together a list of tips to help keep your food bill low and your fridge stocked with healthy foods.
As with most matters related to saving money, the first step is to start with a budget. Budget meal planning is no exception. If you don’t already have a system in place to keep track of your finances, check out our Ultimate Budgeting Guide. A budget can help you to gain visibility into exactly how much money you’re spending, how much you have coming in, and how much you need for your normal expenses. You may also want to consider using personal finance apps to help you manage your money.
Even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, having more insight into your finances can help you find extra money in your budget when you plan carefully. It’ll also help you determine how much money you should be spending on food without going overboard.
You may have a budget in place, but it’s not always easy to find space in your budget to contribute to your savings. If you need some help keeping your spending down, take a look at these tips to help you save money each month.
If you want to start budget meal planning and make sure you’re always consuming healthy, fresh produce, you’re going to have to be flexible with your shopping list. Buying your favorite produce can often be more expensive when it’s out of season, so if you’re looking to put together some healthy meals on a budget, you’re going to have to leave some room for change in your diet. Start by taking a trip to your local farmers’ market and keep an eye out for what’s in season. It helps to talk to the farmers to get a better idea of what you should be looking out for.
The timing of your purchases applies to more than just what’s in season. The time of day can have a huge effect on the prices you’ll see at the market. If you’re looking to maximize savings, get there late. Farmers are looking to sell as much as they can, so they’ll typically drop their prices near the end of the day and start to bundle different items together. Stock up on as much fruit and produce as you can and freeze everything you won’t be eating that week. While you may not have as much choice as you would near the beginning of the day, it’ll be well worth the savings if you’re trying to start budget meal planning.
While it might be nice to have an endless amount of fresh produce at your fingertips, the truth is that when you’re budget meal planning, you’re going to have to jump on a good deal when you can. When it comes to fresh produce, there’s only so much you can buy at once without finding yourself with a rotten container of vegetables by week’s end.
But this doesn’t mean you should pass up a great deal! When you stumble upon a great sale, it’s okay to buy more than you think you’ll be able to eat that week and set aside some of it to freeze. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for pre-packaged bags of frozen vegetables. As long as you make sure you’re buying frozen produce that’s free of added salt or sugar, these vegetables will often be just as nutritious as when they’re fresh. Look for sales, buy in bulk, and you’ll have vegetables to add to your stews, soups, and stir-fries for months!
You may have heard the term “superfood” thrown around in a discussion about healthy eating. While this buzz term was primarily coined as marketing tool to sell food products and dieting trends, superfoods refer to nutrient-rich foods that can have a positive impact on your health. Unfortunately, popular superfoods like goji berries and bee pollen don’t come cheap. The good news is that you don’t need to jump on the superfood bandwagon to find nutrient-rich food to include in your cheap healthy meal prep.
There are plenty of accessible and budget-friendly foods that could fall into the category of “everyday superfoods”, like broccoli, oatmeal, cabbage, oranges, and much more. There’s no need overstretch your budget to needlessly incorporate trendy foods when you have so many healthy, affordable options available for your budget meal planning.
Budget meal planning gets easier when you have online resources to help you plan and cut down on prices. Food tracking apps can help you keep track of personal progress, so you can make sure you’re sticking to a healthy diet.
Some apps can even help you earn or save money while shopping. Ibotta, for example, allows you to get money back simply by opening the app and seeing if there are any nearby cashback opportunities. Once you’ve made your purchase, take a photo of your receipt with the app and they’ll match the item you’ve purchased to the corresponding offers. You’ll see cash back within 48 hours of your purchase!
There are even apps which will help you find the ingredients you need within a grocery store or create shopping lists based on your needs. ChefTap has a built-in organization feature that allows you to save healthy recipes you’ve discovered online, and will then help you create grocery lists based on the ingredients found in these recipes. Whether it’s saving on groceries or helping you stick to a list, there’s an app out there to help, so take advantage.
Maybe you’ve decided to start budget meal planning to start saving on groceries, or maybe just want to keep up with a healthier diet. Either way, the results of your efforts can have a significant impact on your life. Overhauling your shopping and eating habits is rarely easy, but with a little dedication and proper guidance you’ll have all the tools to start eating healthy on a budget.
Do you have any tips that have helped you to start budget meal planning? Share below!