If you’re using the ‘it’s too expensive’ excuse for not eating healthy foods then you’re going to have to grasp at a new straw because healthy foods don’t have to be any more expensive than a regular shop, and if you do it right it can even be cheaper. Plus, when you buy healthy food and cook healthier meals you will save money in other areas such as health insurance, doctor’s bills and medication. Following are some easy ways you can live a healthier and a more frugal life:
1 – Look in the bulk bins
If you’ve never really looked closely at the items in the bulk bins at supermarkets now is the time to start because when you make the decision to buy healthier foods and cook healthier meals you are going to need to replace a lot of the staple items in your pantry. You can do this by having a look through the bulk bins because these items have less packaging making less waste, and you are able to buy only the amount you need so you don’t waste what isn’t used in time. To help you make the most of the bulk bins in your supermarket to build a healthier trolley:
Look out for different types of the same things in the bulk bin, for example you may find raw cashews which you can toast yourself, and which will be cheaper and healthier than the roasted, salted cashews.
Customize your cereal and make your own unique breakfast combination by adding cornflakes to rice puffs or bran and dried fruit to your favorites for a healthier option.
Look for the organic range of basic food stuffs which often end up in the bulk bin and which can help you stock your new healthy pantry, as well as items for special nutritional needs such as gluten free.
Don’t buy large amounts of nuts as they can go off very quickly – only buy the amounts you will eat quickly.
Find out how often the bulk bin is replenished and when so you can get there on the right day for the best pick, and you know you’re getting the food at its freshest.
Use the small packages in the bulk bin to help you expand your weekly menus because if you don’t like something or a recipe doesn’t work, you’re not stuck with large amounts of the ingredients.
2 – Easily and affordably add fruit to your diet
A healthy and well balanced diet should include two servings of fruit per day, so use these tips to start your family on the road to healthy eating without breaking the bank:
Shop for seasonal fruit because when you buy fruit which is in season it has only traveled locally to get to your supermarket and you are not paying for high transport costs to get summer fruit to your supermarket in winter.
Buying local fruit will also cut down on the produce’s traveling time and make it more affordable.
Look for frozen fruits such as berries which may be on special as you can keep these in the freezer all year round and use them for smoothies, or add a handful of frozen berries to an apple crumble for extra nutrients.
Also look for canned fruit which has a long shelf life in the pantry and has just as many nutrients as fresh fruit as long as you choose the brands which have no added sugar. Canned fruit can also make great smoothies.
Apples are a fruit which you can always find cheaply all year around, just make sure you choose the variety of apple which is the cheapest as there can be a big difference in price between the types of apple.
Bananas will also keep well and are an affordable fruit to add to your family’s healthy diet.
Don’t just unload your fruit into the fruit bowel and expect the family to do the rest – make it easy by chopping up fruit and keeping it in containers in the fridge for easy and quick snacks.
Make adding fruit to your diet interesting by putting together fruit kebabs for dessert by using chunks of any fruit you have picked up for a bargain. Even putting together a plate of chopped fruit after dinner makes a healthy end to the night.
Snack on fruit before dinner too by including slices of apples, pears or oranges to a cheese or dips platter.
Learn how to preserve fruits so that you never have to throw away fruit which is overripe and you always have fruit on hand throughout the year.
3 – Boost vegetables for affordable meals
As well as two serves of fruit you’re also supposed to have five serves of vegetables each day, and when you know how to look for veggie bargains you can replace other more expensive ingredients in your cooking with healthy vegetable alternatives:
You’ll also save by shopping for vegetables in season because there are a lot available and they don’t have to travel too far to get to your supermarket.
Don’t forget to look at local farmers markets, roadside stalls and greengrocers where you can find cheap, fresh, good quality vegetables.
Frozen vegetables also have the same nutritional value as fresh veggies, sometimes even more because they are snap frozen at the source, rather than transported to sit in the supermarket for days. Frozen vegetables will also keep longer, and more likely to be on special when you can stock up. You’ll also save by buying single varieties of frozen vegetables rather than mixed vegetables or stir fry vegetables with the sauces included.
Start growing your own vegetables, even if you only have a small space in your garden. Plus, as you get your garden going you can collect the seeds from what you’ve grown ready to plant a new crop next year.
4 – Plan your snacks
Instead of giving your kids money for a bag of chips from the canteen and crushing those afternoon cravings with a chocolate bar, plan what you can make as a snack when you are shopping. For example, if you really want a chocolate hit, buy a bag of chocolate chip cookies and take just small portions – two cookies – each day to work instead. You’ll be able to stretch a whole packet of biscuits to last a week and will have spent $2 when a chocolate bar every day would add up to $10 for the week.
5 – Healthy oils
Buy a spray bottle and fill it with oil as this will cut down the amount of oil you use from several glugs to just a few squirts. Plus, you won’t be getting any of the chemicals which come in the aerosol spray oils, and which also ruin your non-stick pots and pans.
6 – Healthy drinks
If you can switch from drinking soft drinks to drinking water you will save on all of those pricy bottled drinks, plus you won’t have a mountain of plastic bottles around the house. If your family wants something other than water, look for a juice which is high in actual fruit content and low in sugar and start diluting it with water, as you get used to it, add more and more water.
You should also have at least two alcohol free days each week to maintain a healthy balance. You’ll also be able to maintain a healthy bank balance when you look at an average bottle of wine costing $20 and a glass of wine in a bar costing at least $6 each.
Alban has been writing on personal finance and frugal topics for several year.When he is not offering tips to save money, Alban writes high interest savings account reviews at Savings Account Finder.