There is a popular myth floating around this country that you cannot eat healthy on a budget. Well, I’m here to bust that myth. Good news for some, bad news for those who needed an excuse to keep buying dry ramen and sugary cereal. Don’t worry, this list isn’t going to take away all flavor from your diet. Quite the contrary, these grocery shopping tips are going to help you make delicious and nutritious food without breaking the bank. For those with alternative diets, things get a little tougher. This guide, though, should fit the bill for the majority of readers.
Hunt for Meat Deals
This one doesn’t apply to a few of you, but for the rest, it is vital. Meat is one of the best and most efficient sources of vitamins and macronutrients and really helps shape the meals you’re cooking. With that said, you aren’t going to be shooting for ribeye and New York strips every trip to Walmart. Chicken is a great starting point, as deals can get as low as $2/lb on chicken breast. With very little inedible tissue, chicken breasts are the cheapest and most versatile cuts in the meat section. With beef, you’ll want to keep your eyes out for cheap-yet-flavorful cuts like top round and tri-tip. If your grocer or butcher has a butcher’s cut or “hanger steak,” that is about the best value you can find. As far as pork goes, it is all pretty cheap.
Rice and Beans, Beans and Rice
Universal staples, rice and beans are always cheap and always a bulk-buy favorite. Snag a 10-pound bag of rice and use it often. Black and red beans are my favorite, and playing with the seasoning can make these two ingredients feel new every time. Make sure you keep that spice cupboard a little varied, and make sure to include some veggies as well. Throw in whatever protein you purchased, and you’ve got a great full meal already!
Don’t Buy Veggies/Fruit Without a Plan
We have all done it. Maybe you had one killer beef and broccoli recipe, and got a little ambitious with how much of that mini-tree you’d actually eat. Maybe you were super determined to start eating more salad, and now you’re staring at a bag of sticky, brown romaine lettuce. The point here is this: If you don’t have a specific meal plan for every bit of veg you buy, don’t buy it. You are on a budget, and you can’t afford to have fresh food going to waste. Choose wisely, and make sure any extras you purchase are things you’d eat alone (and even raw) so you can snack through the excess. Choices like this include carrots, bananas, apples, and other snackables that you can toss into a lunch bag with confidence.
This isn’t at all meant to be a complete guide to healthy shopping. Rather, incorporating these tips into a legitimate meal plan will keep your costs down without reaching for the junk. Following these rules exactly will keep you full, but you will want to throw in other ideas to keep it fresh. Know what your needs are, and if you have kids, make some concessions to make sure they eat enough. The main idea here is to give you confidence that your thin budget doesn’t have to harm your health.