Healthy eating is making more and more sense for Gen Z. While the fast-food culture is nowhere near its end, the younger generation is experimenting with healthy eating habits. However, developing a lifestyle that answers the most asked question ‘how to eat healthy on a budget’ seems to be challenging. Most people in the age group 20-30 wants to practise healthy eating but cannot keep up because it doesn’t fit in their budget.
Contrary to popular belief, healthy eating is not expensive. What you need is correct information and a few hours to make a feasible plan. If you are determined to practise healthy eating, you can do it no matter how tight your budget is. And you will not be munching on oatmeal all weak. Your diet will be nutritious, delicious, and affordable. Since you are starting something new, here are 12 guidelines to stay on the path of budget-friendly healthy eating.
Planning has more power than money. Eating healthy food can exhibit the results in a mere 30 days. So make a plan for the next 30 days. Get the help of the internet and research on the nutrients required and foods that provides these nutrients. Your list must include fruits, vegetables, and grains. Do not omit the ones that you don’t like. Instead, find a way to make them agreeable to your palate. Find healthy combinations for each meal. If you are used to eating something at 5 PM, include that in the plan. This plan will serve as a guide to your shopping list too.
The food and beverages industry does an excellent job in packaging. All those good looking packets are intended to lure you in. This is why you should never walk into a grocery store or supermarket without a list. Pick a day to make the grocery list every week. Check the pantry and list down items that are finished or will be finished before the next visit to the store. This will not only stop you from impulse shopping but ensure that you are not tempted to eat out.
Local and seasonal produce cheaper and healthier. They will also be packed with flavour and nutrients. Each region has foods that are weather appropriate and designed for the natives by nature. Imported produce will be expensive and coated in chemical preservatives. Try to explore ways to preserve seasonal produce to enjoy them later too. Or eat them as much as you want when it is available. No one is judging you.
It is a big decision. You might not be able to stick to it in the first try. But, let's face it. Junk food is unhealthy and expensive. While 1 kg of potatoes cost less than Rs 100, one plate of french fries costs between Rs 100-300. Try different tricks to beat the cravings. You can even use junk food as a reward for eating healthy food. Decide that if you are craving junk food, you will eat fruits or vegetables before eating junk food. Most of the time you crave junk food because the body needs quick energy. Once it is replenished, you may not even crave fries anymore. If you have a habit of hoarding junk food, stop it. You won’t have midnight snacks if you don’t have it.
This is the most important step in your quest on how to eat healthy on a budget. You have complete control over portions and ingredients. Once you start doing it, you may find it exhilarating and useful too. This will also give you a chance to experiment with recipes and develop dishes that are healthy and inexpensive. When you are cooking at home, utilise the leftovers too. They make delicious breakfasts or evening snacks.
Most people eat lunch from restaurants regularly. That’s food with unknown ingredients. It is also expensive. Calculating the money spent a month only on lunch can be insightful. Since you have started cooking at home, pack your lunch too. There are hundreds of quick and easy lunch recipes that are easy on your pocket and body. Eating a filling and nutritious lunch may even stop you from munching on something else before the next meal.
How much money do you spend on bottled dips, sauces, salad dressings, and spreads? You can easily save that money by making them yourself. The ones that you buy from supermarkets are not transparent in terms of ingredients. They have chemical preservatives and flavour enhancers. When you make them at home, you can tweak the flavour as per your taste. Dips, sauces, salad dressings, and spreads are versatile ingredients which can be used on multiple occasions. Think of preparing a meal by simply chopping a few vegetables and adding salad dressing at the end of a tiring day. It is way healthier than ordering pasta or fried chicken.
The world is in love with organic produce. Utilise the space you have, no matter how small it is to grow vegetables or herbs. This will save you a lot of money. And you will have fresh and free produce every day. Bell peppers, chillies, and herbs are extremely easy to make and requires very little space.
The sole point of having a refrigerator is storing more food than you can eat in one day. Batch cooking is healthy, and it saves money. It helps you to save fuel and money spent on transportation. Consider cooking some items enough to last a week before whining about how to eat healthy on a budget. Batch cooking will ensure that you have food at home even on days when you are too tired to cook. You will be forced to eat a healthy, home-cooked meal even when you are tempted to order junk food.
Whole foods are rich in nutrients and cheaper than processed items. They are the best way to start eating healthy food. The only thing better than buying whole foods is buying whole foods in bulk during sales. These priced occasions are the ultimate solution for ‘how to eat healthy on a budget’ dilemma. Whole foods like grains are ideal to buy in bulk because they don’t spoil easily.
Meat is the primary source of protein. But they are also high in fat and expensive. Since you cannot live without protein, find plant-based protein sources to replace meat. Popular plant-based protein sources are lentils, chia seeds, quinoa, cottage cheese, hemp seeds, and chickpeas. These are filling and rich in nutrients too. Eating meat once a week will not do any harm.
You cannot avoid going out and eating at restaurants completely. It is part of your social life. But ‘how to eat healthy on a budget at a restaurant’ is not a tough cookie. You can control how much you eat at a restaurant. Choose smaller portions while ordering. Or you can share with friends. This will reduce the amount of unhealthy food you eat along with being light on the pocket. The more friends you dine with, the happier the task of splitting the bill will be.