There’s no doubt that the price of eating clean and healthy can hurt our pockets. According to a study by Cambridge University, healthy grocery foods can be thrice as expensive per calorie as unhealthy foods such as chips and chocolates.
It’s even supported by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health who claimed that healthier diets consisting of fruits, vegetables, and fish can cost about $1.50 more every day. That’s more than $500 per year!
However, eating clean doesn’t have to break the bank. There are simple and creative ways to reduce costs, from planning meals ahead to taking advantage of your fridge at home.
Here are our tips that will make it easier for anyone to eat and shop for healthy foods while on a tight budget:
Stay away from trendy “healthy” foods
Did you know that the term “healthy” and “natural” found on food packaging isn’t regulated? It only means that manufacturers get to throw around these words even if their products aren’t as healthy and clean as advertised.
For example, fruit juices aren’t really good for you. Most consumers believe that they’re healthy because they come from fruits, but almost all fruit juices you can find in a grocery store aren’t what they seem to be.
Sometimes, they don’t actually contain any real fruit in them, just chemicals and additives that taste like fruit. Basically, what you’re drinking is fruit-flavoured water that contains an unhealthy amount of sugar.
It’s no secret that excessive sugar comes with health risks, especially on our skin.
In fact, according to the specialists at Dermatologists Singapore, too much sugar intake causes wrinkles, triggers breakouts, and ages our skin faster, among others.
Here’s a rule of thumb to remember in order to know which is healthy and which is driven by marketing fluff: most clean-eating plans involve little-to-no packaged foods.
Fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean meat, seeds, and nuts are healthy food options that don’t require fancy packaging and buzzwords to get the attention of consumers.
You don’t even need to visit a specialty store to get your hands on healthy food options because all of them can be found in your local grocery store, from fresh fibre sources to plant-based proteins.
Keep track of in-season produce
Another way to get your hands on fresh produce without the premium price tag is by keeping track of their seasons. During harvest time, the prices of in-season produce go down due to increased availability.
In line with that, the cost of fruits and vegetables will likewise drop when they’re at their peak in terms of nutrition and flavour. Most local grocery stores will even hold promos and discounts in order to sell out their remaining stock before the season is over.
During summer months, peaches, organic strawberries, apricots, cherries, plums, and melons are some of the cheapest produce you purchase at a grocery store.
You might want to consider purchasing fruits, vegetables, meats and eggs directly from local farmers. Even if it’s not in-season, most of their products are budget-friendly because there’s no packaging and transportation fees involved.
Plan your meals ahead
Instead of getting a $20 salad every day during lunch breaks, why not plan and pack your own lunch? Sure, there’s no denying that salads are a healthy meal, but imagine their total cost after a month.
The night before the start of another work week, we recommend taking some time to organize and prepare what you want to eat for the rest of the week. If all your meals are already prepared, there won’t be any temptation to get those $20 salad takeouts during lunch breaks.
You can start by making a thorough inventory of your pantry and fridge, and then crafting a clean and healthy meal plan for the week out of the available ingredients.
If possible, include meals that can be readily consumed after getting home from work. After all, the temptation of ordering food online increases when you have no energy to create your meal after a long day at work.
We can guarantee that having foods prepared for the entire day or week and a healthy meal waiting at home will save your wallet from impulsive expenses when you’re tired and hungry.
Save leftovers for later
If you’ve managed to prepare enough meals for a couple of days, what you need to do next is to store them inside your refrigerator to prolong their life.
According to the technicians at Fridge Repair Singapore, prepared food can be stored inside the refrigerator for up to four days. Cold temperature slows down the growth of bad bacteria, allowing meals to last longer by up to 10 or more times longer.
It also applies to food leftovers. Instead of throwing them into the garbage, you can toss them inside a container, store them inside the fridge, and eat them again tomorrow. In fact, leftover veggies can be turned into a soup or wrapped up in a salad.
Saving (and preparing leftovers) can help reduce our food waste, and allow us to take advantage of produce when they’re at their cheapest.
Anyway, that’s it for our tips on how to start eating clean and healthy without going over the budget. These tips are so simple and easy to follow that you won’t have a hard time doing them on your own.
If you can think of other tips about eating healthy while on a tight budget, don’t hesitate to share them with us! We always love hearing what our readers have to say.