5 More Tips for Eating Right On a Budget
In my last post I shared a few tips for eating right on a budget – and wanted to share a few more to help keep your budget and belly on a healthy track:
1) Take a meat-break.
Many of us, myself included, grew up with meat-centric meals. Although quality-sourced animal foods offer some valuable nutrients, I believe most of us could get by on a lot less meat, opting instead for smaller portions or some meatless meals. Not only does less meat on the plate make more room for gut-friendly plants, but also eating fewer animal products is easier on the earth and your wallet – so everybody wins! Consider joining the Meatless Mondays movement and when you do eat animal products, opt for smaller amounts of those that have been humanely-treated and pasture-raised, and free of hormones, antibiotics, preferably organic or fresh from the farmers’ market. Re-think your plate so that meat and poultry are more of a side dish and plants are the main attraction.
2) Build a better, hot breakfast – fast.
When my kids were young, oatmeal and buckwheat pancakes were two of our inexpensive yet nutritious breakfast staples. To save precious minutes in the morning, try filling small individual Pyrex bowls with fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries and apple chunks, chopped nuts, crushed flaxseeds and store in the fridge. At breakfast time, set out the “bowl buffet” of toppings, the cinnamon shaker and let everyone top their own oats or buckwheat pancakes. Another time saver: before bed, pre-mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, mix the wet ingredients in another, store both overnight in the fridge and combine in the a.m. Better yet, make batches of buckwheat pancakes ahead and store in the freezer ‘til needed.
3) Extend your luncheon mileage.
When I was growing up, canned fish was a bit of a luxury – and it still is! A small can of salmon, sardines or skipjack tuna these days provides a powerful protein boost. Delicious add-ins offer plenty of color and nutrients to the mix. To get more out of your canned fish, and really turn it into a filling salad, put more into it – add flavor, color and crunch with chopped celery, fennel, spinach, apple, carrot, red onion, peppers, pickles, cucumber, scallions, and even brown rice.
4) Go for the bowl.
Fill up the family with budget-stretching noodle bowls, bean soups, pureed vegetable soups and stews. Black bean soup, winter squash soup, cauliflower soup and 3-bean meat-free chili topping a small sweet potato (yum!) are among my favorite big nutrition, low-cost filler-uppers. The more veggies and beans you put in, the bigger the nutritional and budgetary benefit – so don’t hold back!
5) Think outside the supermarket.
In other words, shop around to find the best bargains and always shop with a list or shopping app. Keep your eyes open and know the prices of your most frequently bought items so you can take advantage when deals pop up. Whenever possible buy items in bulk and on sale, particularly when it comes to staple items for the pantry. Shop at a variety of outlets, from corner stores, small green grocers and farmers markets to supermarkets and discounters like Trader Joe’s, Costco and Aldi. Take a look at stores like TJ Maxx and Home Goods which often sell small quantities of organic spices, olive oils, nuts and seeds for considerably less than retail.
For more ideas on how to eat healthy for less, check out my earlier post, 5 Tips for Eating Right on a Budget and take a look at the Environmental Working Group’s EWG's "Good Food on a Tight Budget" booklet for more budget-friendly shopping tips.