Although it may seem like a fast-food dollar menu is inexpensive, you ultimately end up paying for it with your health. So can you eat healthfully on a tight budget? Of course you can!
With a little planning ahead, you can make nutritious meals that are surprisingly inexpensive (and also delicious). Here are our top tips for creating healthy meals on a budget.
How to Create Healthy Meals on a Tight Budget
[Credit: White, Dana Angelo. "Ask the Experts: Budget-Friendly Tips." Food Network.][Credit: Clark, Larkin. "5 Hacks For Cooking Healthy Meals on a Budget." Well & Good.]
Start with simple foods.
The most nutritious foods are usually the ones that are minimally processed - and as it turns out, they're also the least expensive. Less processing means that less money went into production, and therefore they end up being cheaper for you. Our True Lemon packets contain only simple and clean ingredients, and no artificial flavors, sweeteners or preservatives. Keeping these on hand will make it a little easier to stay healthy!
Buy in bulk!
Choosing to purchase whole grains, nuts, seeds, rice, quinoa, and other pantry staples in the bulk section of the grocery store will not only cut down on packaging waste, but also on cost. Having these basic items in the cupboard will make it easier to throw together something wholesome on short notice.
Spice things up.
Adding balanced flavors and spices to your meals will make something seemingly boring into a decadent and flavorful meal. Try adding True Lime Garlic and Cilantro Spice Blend to rice - you may find you don't need much else! Seasoning an inexpensive cut of meat can make a huge difference in flavor, and it's much healthier than using a dressing or marinade. Here are some simple and healthy recipe ideas to get you started!
Buy produce that's in season.
Fresh strawberries will always cost more in winter than in summer, as in much of the U.S. they're not in season. So why not try something else instead? Buying produce that is seasonal to your area usually means it is less costly, because it doesn't have to travel as far from the farm to the grocer. You don't even have to ask someone at the store what is in season, as it'll show on the price sticker!
Skip pre-washed and pre-packaged produce items.
Opting to pick out your own fruits and vegetables can save a lot of money, as the pre-washed, pre-packaged versions can cost almost double the price. This goes for anything that comes in a bag or container in the produce section such as greens, carrots, and mushrooms.
Get creative with what you have.
Rather than running out to the store to buy specific ingredients for a recipe, try using what you have in your cupboard or freezer. Have some broccoli that's about to go bad? Look up a recipe for broccoli soup! Buying exact ingredients can also mean you end up with leftover waste, as recipes often require just small amounts of each item. Start with what you have, and work from there.
Make less waste, and use every bit!
If your celery is looking a bit wilted, don't just toss it. Chop it finely and use it in a quiche, or add it to soup. Carrot peels, onion ends, and broccoli stalks are great items to freeze and save for making your own vegetable broth! Just boil them hot water for 1-2 hours, and let cool. Store in containers in the fridge for 1-2 weeks for an easy soup base. Another great tip is to save your strawberry tops. Put them in water in your fridge for a refreshing (and healthy) treat. Better yet, add True Lemonade along with them for a tasty low-calorie treat!