So you pick up your phone and suddenly you’ve spent $35 on a carb-heavy meal that would have cost a fraction to prepare at home.
Thankfully, there are ways to do so on a budget. Here are six ways you can eat healthier without spending your entire paycheck at the grocery store.
Grain bowls are a great place to start. Grab 8 ounces of chicken breast (which will make about five to seven meals depending on how much you eat), an easy-to-chop vegetable like zucchini or asparagus, and some quinoa or rice. Or choose your own favorites; any protein, vegetable or grain will do — the key is balance. Your best friends here will be a chicken shredder and vegetable slicer, easily available online, that will save you a lot of chopping time.
You can keep these prepped grain bowls interesting — and varied — by using different sauces, dressings and condiments throughout the week, Rosen said.
Build a freezer stash
Stocking your freezer with nutritious foods will be sure to save you from the oh-so-tempting late-night take-out splurge. For example, you can buy frozen broccoli, shrimp and precooked rice separately to combine in a pan with some oil and seasoning for a healthy, 10-minute dinner.
While you won’t see significant savings when buying frozen foods like chicken and vegetables as opposed to fresh, you will save money by having nutritious staples on hand, with the added benefit of a food with a longer shelf life.
Consider plant-based proteins
Get creative in the kitchen
Think of smoothies as a vehicle for your daily vegetable intake, as leafy greens like kale and spinach are easy to mask among sweeter ingredients like blueberries, strawberries and bananas. The mistake most people make with smoothies, Rosen said, is focusing on fruit and skimping on protein and healthy fats, which can cause a blood sugar spike and crash. If you find that you are slurping your smoothies too quickly, sprinkle some chopped nuts or low-added-sugar granola on top to encourage you to slow down and chew.
Try these swaps at the grocery store
Often you don’t have to completely give up what you love in order to eat healthier and save cash — it’s just about making the right choices. Keeping these swaps that Rosen recommended in mind while you grocery shop will give your body a nutritional boost and save you some money at checkout:
- Switch out the bananas in your basket for apples, for more fiber.
- Instead of white potatoes, try sweet potatoes for more vitamin A.
- Leave the lettuce, and pick up some spinach for more folate.
- Swap your regular yogurt for Greek yogurt for more protein.
- Save by swapping shredded cheese packs for blocked cheese.
- Put back packaged nuts/seeds and try to buy in bulk instead — this is a saving that goes for most foods, as you pay a premium for individual packaging.
- In the same vein, swap your canned beans for bagged dry beans.
- Substitute fresh seafood for tinned fish. The latter can be an acquired taste, but is still nutrient dense.