Have you ever tried to improve your diet, only to get squashed with an extremely high grocery bill? Eating healthy for cheap is a real struggle sometimes.
Girl, we’ve been there. As the cost of living goes up, it feels even harder to feed ourselves and our families healthy foods.
We know you’ve already heard the run-of-the-mill budgeting advice: shop the sales, clip coupons, buy in bulk, yadayada. Don’t get us wrong. Those are GOOD tips! But, sometimes we need more. Sometimes, clipping coupons for cheap healthy eating just doesn’t cut it. Plus, have you noticed most coupons are for processed foods?
In this article, we’ll share five unique strategies for how to eat healthy for cheap, without feeling like you’re selling your soul to the healthy-eating-gods 😉.
5 Strategies to Eat Healthy For Cheap
1. Eat More Fat
This first tip regarding eating healthy for cheap may raise some questions, but bear with us.
Fat (and especially ketosis) balances the body’s appetite hormones. For example, eating more fat decreases our hunger hormone, called ghrelin (1), while increasing our fullness hormone, leptin (2). This makes us feel less #hangry throughout the day – helping us eat more appropriate (and budget-friendly) portion sizes.
Healthy and affordable types of fat include: eggs, olive oil, nuts, seeds, butter, and if tolerated, full-fat block cheese, and full-fat yogurt (bulk containers are often cheaper).
Here are a few specific ways to incorporate more budget-friendly fats into your diet:
- Choose chicken thighs over skinless chicken breasts.
- Add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil to steamed vegetables.
- Add pumpkin, chia, or flax seeds to smoothies.
- Have breakfast for dinner – such as an egg omelet with affordable veggies like onions, spinach, bell peppers, and zucchini.
2. Consider Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) isn’t as scary as it may sound. Plus, it helps with eating healthy for cheap. With IF, there’s a dedicated time period for eating meals and snacks, and a separate time period for fasting!
Intermittent fasting has tons of health benefits – like anti-aging, helping with weight loss, improving insulin resistance, and lowering inflammation (3-5). But, fasting is also an effective method in learning how to eat healthy and cheap. By implementing intermittent fasting, people generally eat less food overall.
Want to learn more about healthy ways to implement intermittent fasting? Check out our all-inclusive IF blog for more information.
3. Avoid Recipes with Crazy Ingredients
We love experimenting with foods just as much as the next person. But, some recipes on the internet are just flat-out crazy! Since when did we require octopus tentacles, moon dust, and the blood of a virgin to make a healthy meal?! (Ok, we’re obviously exaggerating, but you catch our drift.)
The 131 Method believes in simplifying healthy eating – which means eating healthy for cheap! Here are a few of our favorite and simple (yet healthy) recipes you can make at home:
131 Salmon Patties – This recipe uses wild-caught canned salmon, which is a lot cheaper than fresh or frozen.
Mexi-Walnut Lettuce Wraps – Plant-based meals are a great way to eat healthy cheap. This recipe is meat-free, yet still has a satisfying 47 grams of fat and 10 grams of plant-based protein per serving!
Homemade Mayonnaise – Have you noticed? Paleo mayonnaise is expensive AF! Our 131 homemade mayo has no crazy ingredients and is an excellent way to save money while avoiding unhealthy preservatives and fillers.
Bret’s Skinny Cocktail – While we obviously don’t want to go overboard with alcoholic drinks, we can still enjoy a healthy but affordable cocktail on days that we #literallycanteven (hey, we’re just being realistic).
4. Eat With The Seasons
As the seasons change, so should the foods on our plates! This budget-friendly tip is underutilized. Here’s the bottom line: foods eaten in season are more fresh, affordable, and nutritious.
When you choose foods that are in-season, you are purchasing them at the peak of their supply. Remember that high school economics class? (Yeah ok, we don’t either). Nonetheless, it’s a matter of supply and demand. As the supply of in-season produce goes up, the cost for us consumers goes down! Seasonal produce is usually grown locally, and travels a shorter distance to get to the grocery store. This results in fresher tasting, and more nutritious produce.
Check out your local farmer’s market, CSA program (community supported agriculture), or look for the “locally grown” stickers at your grocery store. Hint: seasonal produce is usually promoted in the grocery store ads, too!
5. The Freezer is Your Friend
Channel your mama when you read this: food wasted is money lost! That’s why the freezer is our friend when learning how to eat healthy and cheap. Plans change, and sometimes those fresh veggies sit in the fridge for far too long. Frozen veggies are just as healthy as their fresh counterparts! So, stock up on frozen veggies when they’re on sale, and store them in the freezer for easy access. The same goes for frozen fruit, like berries, which are a great way to naturally sweeten smoothies.
We also suggest buying meat in bulk, and storing in the freezer for later use. Whether from a local farmer or a wholesale store like Costco or Sam’s Club, buying meat in bulk usually results in paying less per pound. If dealing with something like bulk ground beef, simply separate into meal sized portions (1-2 lbs depending on your family size) and wrap in freezer paper! Our choice is a delivery service like Butcher Box, which sends grass-fed meats and poultry on ice every month. The price is on par with grocery stores for much higher quality meat. Since it’s pre-portioned and frozen, you simply pull it on an as needed basis.
Eating healthy for cheap can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be!
We know that planning and preparing healthy meals is sometimes a feat in and of itself! But, a tighter budget doesn’t have to hold you back from achieving your best health yet. Our 131 Team of registered dietitians customized a NEW 12-week meal plan for those inside of the 131 Method. Like the tips above, these recipes are rich in healthy fats, realistic, and budget-friendly. Find out more about joining us inside the 131 Method here!