Tips for eating healthy on a budget

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Like many others, eating food that makes me feel good is essential to maintaining my physical and mental health. As someone who has eaten a largely plant-based diet for a number of years and who has only recently started buying my own groceries, I have had to learn that, unfortunately, “healthy” eating can often seem monetarily inaccessible. But by using some of these tips and tricks, I have been able to feel better without breaking the bank. Keep reading to learn more!

Frozen food is your friend

It’s no secret that fresh produce can be one of the more expensive items on a grocery bill. And, in shopping for myself, I have found that often the produce will go bad before I get the chance to use it all. To solve this problem, I have increasingly been buying frozen kale, sweet potatoes, peas and other items that I can easily use in pasta, bowls or other staple foods. They are reported to have just as much nutritional value as fresh produce, and cost significantly less!

Rice and beans

Rice and beans were a staple of my house growing up, and for good reason. The combination is rich in plant proteins and fibers, two components many Americans are missing from their diets. They’re also items that you can purchase in bulk — either dried or canned. Rice and beans make a tasty, easy and cheap meal that can be made in various ways.

Plan your meals

Planning out your meals for the week helps to avoid impulse and overbuying. It also helps with discipline when making decisions at the grocery store. Additionally, planning allows you to take inventory of the items you already have, which is important in order to avoid food waste. We even have a meal prep guide if you need help starting!

Choose your grocery stores wisely

Sometimes, just going to the closest grocery store isn’t the best option. The prices at different stores vary wildly, and going to discount grocery stores can help save major cash. If you’re in an area that has an Aldi or Grocery Outlet, take advantage! Trader Joe’s is typically a solid option as well, while stores like Whole Foods will burn a hole in your wallet. 

Adapt and change

Oftentimes, when people decide they want to eat more “healthy” or plant-based, they think they can eat the same things, just with substitutions. For example, eating vegan chicken nuggets instead of regular ones. But vegan substitutes tend to be very expensive, and these food items are often what is cited when people claim this type of lifestyle is unaffordable. Instead of trying to substitute individual items, try instead to adapt entire meals. There are many recipe websites that can aid with this, including our own Eating Berkeley blog!

While it can be tempting to get caught up in social media and diet culture, it is important to remember that health isn’t something that should be done for the aesthetic. Sometimes the healthiest things aren’t the best looking, and sometimes the best thing for you isn’t the healthiest. But by following these tips and tricks, your health goals can be one step closer!

Contact Lauren von Aspen at [email protected].