Let’s face it, as Americans, we’re all pretty stressed out about money right now, regardless of whether our income is in the low-5-figures or well into the 6-figures. It doesn’t matter if you’re a dual income family or a single mom, it’s harder than ever to eat right on a tight budget.
So what are we, those who are trying to get healthier, to do? It’s easy to say, and likely not as easy to do, but with Spring being here, now’s the time to take action.
First things first, grow as many of your own fruits and veggies as you can. Produce costs have skyrocketed. Tomato plants can be grown potted in small spaces, and with about 20-25 square feet of dirt, you can plant any combination of carrots, strawberries, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, eggplant, corn, and even potatoes for a family of four. Yes, it takes a time investment (weeding, watering, fertilizing) but there is NOTHING like going out to the garden to pick your own veggies - they’re fresher and for some reason, tastier than store bought. And let’s figure, a packet of seeds is what, less than a dollar? Yeah, forget the flowers and get to planting food now.
Buy in bulk, cook in bulk, freeze for later. There’s something about spending a Sunday morning out in the garden, and the afternoon cooking up some ratatouille or a good pasta sauce on the stove. Oh, and forget about buying canned beans… like, ever. Buy them in bulk, dry, and soak them overnight before you cook with them - you can buy a 1 lb. bag for less than a dollar, when a can usually costs about that much and you get much less. Invest in good, freezer quality storage containers and make meals ahead of time. Using large cans of tomatoes (if I haven’t convinced you to get that garden going) and bulk pasta or grains will save you not only time but MONEY. You could even buy boneless skinless chicken breasts in bulk (I know of a deli that sells them in 10 lb. bags!), cook them up, and either freeze them in some chicken broth or chop them up to top salads or make chicken salad.
If you’re not already bringing your lunch for the caloric benefit, start bringing it for the financial one. Leftovers are NOT that bad if you know how to cook with flavor, and I know that the salad bar at the local grocery store is tempting, but it’s also more expensive than if you made the salad yourself at home. This goes for the morning coffee and muffin, too. Krusteaz has great low-fat muffin mixes that are super cheap (Jiffy makes them too) where you only add water, and avoiding the temptation of getting cream and sugar in your Dunkin’ Donuts coffee when you can use low-fat or fat-free milk and Equal or Splenda at home is going to save you in the pockets AND the waistline.
So there you have it - 3 easy ways to save your pocketbook and still eat healthy. What other ways can you think of? Leave them in the comments and I’ll include them in a future post.