When clients tell me they can't afford to eat healthier, I ask them to think twice about what they just said. Sure, grass-fed beef or wild-caught salmon seem pricey, but you will discover that you'll actually save money when you're eating a healthier diet instead of overpriced processed convenience foods.
Plus, if you want to lose fat, what makes you think you have to spend more money when you eat less?
So, what's your excuse now?
Having a tight budget and be dedicated to eating healthy doesn't have to be tricky or complicated.
Here are some smart tips for you, so you can save money and still eat whole foods.
1. Don't be afraid of frozen vegetables and fruits
Frozen fruits and vegetables are way too underrated nowadays. We all love fresh veggies and fruits, but since the frozen ones are picked and then frozen at peak ripeness (and when they are most nutritionally dense), they are often a much better value while being edible way longer than their fresh counterparts.
Furthermore, you are able to take only what you're about to use. It's a great way to reduce produce waste.
And no, freezing them will not destroy their vitamins and minerals!
2. Plan and prep ahead
Prepping and planning your meals in advance is always a step in the right direction.
Plus, it's a good way to make sure, you're eating what's in the fridge and you are able to plan what foods in which quantities you need in order to minimise your waste.
Start by researching for good prepping meals and make a grocery list. Most people do their meal prepping on Sundays to start fresh and prepared in the new week.
This time you don't have to reach for overpriced convenience foods, because you have your meals always with you. And if you prep for, say one whole week, you can buy in bulk and safe even more money.
3. Don't be afraid of store brands
Big brand names don't always assure you a good quality. You don't have to sacrifice quality when you choose cheaper store brand products.
Not everything has to be organic in order to be healthy. Learn how to read nutrition labels and you can check out by yourself if the ingredients are healthy or not.
Most "cheap" brands are actually from the same manufacturer as the big brand ones, because they want to reach both ends of the market.
4. Drink water
Water is necessary for our bodies to function properly. Drink water throughout the day, whenever you feel hungry, whenever you are bored and with every meal. In fact, drinking water can keep you satiated and going until your next meal.
I recommend to always carry a water bottle with you. That way, you remind yourself that you need to drink.
If you're craving something with taste, try fruit infused water rather than juices or vitamin waters. Plain water tastes perfect with frozen berries!
In Europe, most countries have very tight regulations for tap water. So if you live in the UK for instance, you can safely use tap water and safe some money there. Check your local regulations though. In the US or Asia, never drink unfiltered tap water!
5. Cut the junk and stop eating out
If you are on a budget and you want to eat clean, stop buying junk food! You will be surprised to see how much money you're saving by cutting out soda, crackers, cookies, prepackaged meals and processed foods.
Not only offer they just very little nutritional value, but they are also packed with unhealthy ingredients and often too much sodium.
Furthermore, stop eating out that often. Eating out is a nice thing to do once or twice a month. But you can't control which ingredients are used in the meal you ordered. By cooking for yourself you know exactly what and how much you put in your meal and therefore in your mouth.
Plus, normally you can feed an entire family of 4 for the same price as ordering food for one or two people at a restaurant.
6. Look for farmers' markets
Look for a farmers' market near you, where local farmers sell fresh food directly.
This is often much cheaper than buying fresh vegetables, fruits, meat or fish from the grocery store.
Insider tip: Towards the end of the market, most farmers sell remaining items at a huge discount.
7. Find items which are about to expire or when they are in sale
We all have our favourite products. You don't have to cut them out of your life, just stock up on them when they're on sale.
Also try warehouses or club stores likes Costco. They offer great bargains for seasonal products and foods.
Another tip: Go to the grocery store in the evening. Cuts of meat that are about to expire are often quite heavily discounted. No worries - they are still good. But make sure to cook them right away.
8. Brew on your own
Most people can't live without their regular sugar loaded lattes and stale pastries. This caffeine habit can have it's toll on your pocket and your waist.
Become your own barista and brew your coffee or tea for less money and with less calories. If you can't stand plain black coffee, add some cinnamon or almond milk.
A very cheap, tasty, fast and clean way to make your own coffee is a french press. Easy cleaning, doesn't take much space, you can buy ground coffee or grind your own and the press itself is just 20-30 bucks. Tip: spend a few bucks more and get a stainless steel one. Those last forever!
9. Even if it's boring: try to eat the same foods every day
I know, I know... this advice sounds very boring. But it's proven, that eating the same meals every day is an effective method for weight loss.
Eating the same foods every day causes habituation. Meaning your body has a decreasing response to repeated stimulus over time. Food fatigue or food boredom makes you consume less calories.
If you want to try it, but don't want it to get too boring, try different spices and herbs from time to time.
The cheapest foods to buy
Alright, you have all the tips. But which foods should you focus on, if you really need to keep an eye on the budget?
Oats are not only unbelievable cheap, they also provide a huge amount of carbs and protein. Plus, they are super easy to make, can be prepared in a variety of ways and can be bought in bulk.
Furthermore, they are high in fiber, which keeps you full longer.
Avocados are one of densest foods out there. Not just in a calorically aspect, but also in the nutritiously one.
You may think now, that they are pretty pricey, but the truth is that avocados can have an incredible price/nutrient value.
Mix them in your salad bowls, use them for your sandwiches or simply eat them plain with a little bit of salt and pepper.
If they are on sale at your grocery store, make sure to stock up on them!
They are my favourite on-the-go snack and perfect when you're craving something sweet.
You can make a super easy and delicious dessert out of them. Just freeze two very ripe bananas. Put them in a blender together with some greek yogurt and blend until smooth. Soooo good!
Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, a pigment which protect the skin from too much damage, and you won't miss on those benefits if you buy canned tomatoes!
Chopped tomatoes can be bought for around 35p and the are really delicious in pasta sauces or soups.
Mmmmh, I love sweet potatoes. They provide a better nutritional value than white potatoes and a lower glycemic load.
Best part, you can make so much out of them: wedges, fries, mashed sweet potato, loaded sweet potatoes and even sweet desserts!
You will love cottage cheese in both sweet and savoury dishes! It's simply perfect as a part of your main meal or as a healthy snack in between.
You can try it with your oatmeal for breakfast or as a topping mixed with tuna for your jacket potatoes.
Need more protein in your diet? No problem! Actually whey protein is one of the cheapest high quality protein sources you can buy. Make sure to buy it online from companies like MyProtein and always use a discount code. I never order without at least 30% off. Stay away from local shops like GNC, unless you want to spend 3x.
Lentils are an awesome meat replacement for home made bolognese or even burgers. Plus, they are the cheapest protein source out there and provide lots of fiber.
Canned tuna is much cheaper than fresh tuna and you won't miss on the protein. Tinned tuna is perfect for a lunch on the go mixed with natural yogurt, cucumber and tomato. Simple, quick and delicious! But don't eat more than one can per day, to avoid mercury poisoning.
Frozen fruits and vegetables
As mentioned earlier. From mango to berries, from broccoli to peas, buy it frozen.
If you buy frozen veggies and fruits you are able to just use what you really need, therefore you waste less. And the best thing about them, they are perfect for smoothies! Both frozen veggies and fruits.
Doesn't matter if you like butter beans, kidney beans or black eyed beans. Canned beans are an extremely affordable way to get huge amounts of fiber and protein in.
The combination of fiber and protein keep you full for quite some time and they are very tasty in salads or chilis.
Perfect for breakfast or a short lunch break, because yogurts are filled with protein. But beware of flavour loaded kinds of yogurts, because they are also loaded with sugar.
Try to opt for greek yogurt, but it can me more expensive than normal yogurt. Look for cheap brands that offer it.
The most important thing when it comes to eating healthy on a budget, is to have a plan. More isn't always better. Especially when it comes to food pricing.
Did I miss any foods, that you think provide incredible nutritional value for a low price point? Just leave your tips in the comments below!