What's in SeasonWe often hear from patients that it is difficult for them to afford a healthier lifestyle. Here are 7 ways for eating healthy on a budget. While it’s true some “real food” can be pricier than processed food, there are many ways to eat healthier for less. Even on a limited income, making small changes and upgrades can have a huge impact on your health, and your weight!

The first step is for you to set a realistic food budget. Take a look at your last few monthly statements and figure out where you can cut expenses. Do you really need Starbucks every day? Do you need to buy the expensive drink or desert with lots of sugar? How often are you buying lunch or eating at restaurants?

Once you’ve set a budget for yourself, start implementing a few of the following suggestions, and in no time you’ll be on the way to eating clean while saving green, that is, money!

  1. Buy In Season: Not only do your fruits and vegetables taste better when bought in season, but they’re a whole lot cheaper too! In general, buy your broccoli and berries in the summer, apples and squash in the fall and root vegetables in the winter. For a full seasonality chart, check here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/seasonal-calendar/20041
  2. Buy Frozen Fruits and Veggies: I believe fresh is always best, but a lot of research shows that if it is frozen right when picked, frozen fruits and veggies can contain just as many nutrients as fresh ones. These are already pre-washed and pre-cut which saves you time on the preparation. And time is money, right? Speaking of money, frozen fruits and veggies are almost half the price of fresh ones. Always remember to look at the ingredients, avoid those that contain added salt or sugar.
  3. Buy Meats Near the Sell By Date: These can be up to 50%-70% off! Grass-fed beef, cage-free eggs and poultry, and wild caught seafood are always the best to buy. Unfortunately, they can be a bit pricier than those containing hormones and antibiotics. Next time you’re in the meat section, take note of the sell-by date and make it a point to head back to the store on that date. Stock up and freeze until you need it.
  4. Buy Generic or Store Brands: The ingredients are virtually the same, yet the price sure is different! Brand names can sometimes cost as much as 80% more than the generic or store brand. Have you noticed the generic brand usually has a simple or plain package? That’s where you are saving money: on the packaging and advertising.
  5. Buy in Bulk: This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a Costco membership (although I highly recommend one). When you see promos or sales running, stock up! And don’t forget about coupons. These usually allow you to buy multiple items at the discounted price. So if the limit is 3, then get 3. I know a $55 annual membership fee to a wholesale store can seem overwhelming, especially when you are trying to save money. But at Costco this includes another member so it comes out to less than $28 a year if you can split it with someone. Plus, you will save more than that by buying your items in bulk over the course of a year.
  6. Divide Your Bulk Foods with Friends and Family: I bet you aren’t the only one who likes saving money. If you are concerned you might not finish all the food you are buying before it goes bad, split the cost with someone. I often do this with my mother and sister. We’ll buy chia seeds, flax seed, almonds, quinoa or brown rice from Costco and divide it up into thirds. You still have plenty that will last a long time, but at a third of the price!
  7. Buy a Brita or Water Filter: You can basically get one water filter system for the same price as a couple packs of bottled water. Not only is it better for the environment, but also significantly cheaper than buying bottled water. And please, stay away from that expensive and unhealthy soda, juice, energy drinks, and sports drinks, or anything else that you shouldn’t be drinking.

So skip the bells and whistles, my friends! Pay attention to these 7 ways for eating healthy on a budget. At Olivera Weight Management we know YOU are the CEO of your health and future! Invest wisely in your food; you’re worth it!

Teresa M, RN