So you’ve made the decision to eat healthy and you want to fill your shopping basket to the brim with those lean, mean proteins and super healthy, organic fruit and vegetables and feel freakin’ amazing for the new year while you do it BUT maybe you feel you should put it off for one more week as you are standing next to that special “meal deal” offering you three ready-made, full fat, smothered with synthetic cheese dinners that you just pop in the microwave for a few minutes and then devour.
I honestly understand the shock that comes from choosing nourishing, real foods. I have been there! I know it can be extremely difficult to say to yourself yes I want this horribly overpriced, organic, grass fed, super milk that comes from super cows, wearing super capes in a super field with super powers, that costs €7.00, over this pack of chocolate milk that contains a wonderful dose of artificial flavourings and costs €2.00.
Here are 10 smart tips to make eating healthy on a tight budget feel easy!
- Buy fresh produce when it’s in season and freeze it.
- Or simply buy Frozen until you can buy fresh.
- Look for sales and plan your meals accordingly.
- Try less expensive sources of protein eg Chicken or tofu instead of beef.
- Embrace whole grains and beans.
- Plan and prep meals ahead.
- Research Recipes! On your lunch break, on the bus, on the toilet wherever.
- Grow your own. Why not if you have a garden or even a balcony you can put a grow-bag on then plant some tomato seeds.
- Shop around you will find better prices.
- Grab your newspaper or store magazine where you can get discount coupons on certain foods.
Eating cheap does not mean that you have to eat processed but people tend to stick to convenience when they are tight for cash. I partly think the reason for this is because you are probably stressed from lack of funds and that makes you reach for quick comfort foods. I mean if you had a long stressful day at work and you haven’t been paid yet would you rather reach for a bowl of fresh organic broccoli or a pizza and fries?? Often the answer is the latter unless you are already partial to being a healthy eater.
In any case whether you are a student saving shillings or a mamma makin’ a lil’ money there are some foods you could stock up on that will tide you over until there is a little more padding in your purse.
Cheap Foods that are Healthy or Healthy-ish:
Eggs!! These are a super-food not only because they are very nutritious but also because they are so versatile. Breakfast, lunch or dinner eggs can fill your tummy. Scramble with some veggies, make a frittata, make pancakes, hard-boil use your imagination. They don’t always have to be fried! why not poach them and pop them on some wholegrain toast with some sweet chilli or sriracha sauce 😉
Rice: is filling and will provide you with energy not to mention a bag of brown rice will last you a long time. Take some frozen veggies and make a stir fry. Brown rice can take a little longer to cook but if you are patient you will have a tasty high fibre meal.
Kidney Beans:……not made from kidneys…. but full of protein and good for your heart….you know the rhyme. you may not be able to buy bags of dried beans from the health food store yet but you can stock up on a few cans of these beans and you’d be surprised how creative you can get with them.
Grapes: These are excellent for snacking on and can be added to salads. What’s wonderful is these little antioxidant packed fruits can be frozen too.
Pineapple or Watermelon: Both of these can be used as a desert or a healthy lunch time snack. They are sweet, nutritious, delicious and packed with vitamin C! This will boost your immunity which is something we all need when we are having some financial stresses.
Chicken Breasts: Just because you can’t have sirloin steak every night doesn’t mean you can’t have a pair of breasts….or delicious meals. Chicken breasts or chicken tenders can be used for soups, sandwiches and casseroles. Chicken is a great source of low fat protein.
Tofu: Don’t want meat that’s no problem Tofu is not expensive if you shop around and as it’s high in protein and low in fat it’s a delicious option for vegetarians and even for those who just feel like a few meat free nights wouldn’t hurt.
Black Beans: These can work well combined with your brown rice and making a meal for under $2 ain’t that bad! Boil up these beans and use them for soups and tacos. They are not only sources of protein but fiber, calcium, potassium, and folic acid.
Chickpeas: These little guys are great in a curry or salad and help lower cholesterol and can help those trying to lose weight. Source of protein and fibre. These have lots of benefits and are a healthy choice.
Frozen Peas: I practically lived off frozen peas for a while I ate bowls of cold peas with mayo all the time! Pea’s are another power food packed full of vitamins like vitamin C, fibre, vitamin B1, vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium and folate. They are also a good source of B6, niacin, vitamin B2, zinc, potassium, iron and protein.
Oats: These don’t have to be boring in fact they can be pretty dam tasty. If you have a big bag of oats you can make all kinds of high fiber low calorie snacks. Add honey or blueberries if you have them you can use them to make snacks and even power pancakes! A favorite of mine 😉
Tinned Tuna: Tuna is cheap, tasty and good for your brain do I need to say more? It will hopefully help you be smarter about your food choices 🙂 Throw that stuff in your shopping cart and you won’t regret it. A great source of Omega-3 so mix it with greek yoghurt
Tinned Salmon: You may not be able to budget for the fresh fillet from over the counter today but you might be able to pick up some tinned salmon that you can mix with some tinned beans or some other healthy option and make a salad or sandwich. You could even make salmon patties. You will get plenty of omega-3 and protein without the high price.
Bananas: Are an awesome snacking food and are helpful for those trying to lose weight. Full of potassium and fibre. They are also a source of B6 and Vitamin C. If you have a bunch of bananas in the house you wont be hungry.
Tomatos: Just think of all the things you can use these for, bolognaise, pasta dishes, lasagne, soup, salads and so much more. Packed full of vitamin C, A and K. They also contain Folate, magnesium and potasium.
Also I’m sorry my American friends but Aldi is far cheaper than Walmart too but I did find some better deals that Walmart when I was there in local farmers markets or in Trader Joes if you have those stores near you. Please leave any other suggestions or tips in the comment box below.
Remember your Health is your Wealth so try not to pump your bodies cells full of processed foods and chemicals you can still feel good about yourself and take steps to take care of your body even on a budget.
Take care of yourself peeps! Things will get better just keep going. Lots of love!
Samples of prices in local stores
Kavanagh’s Organic Porridge Oats
€1.69 20 Large Irish Fresh Eggs
€3.49 Organic Fairtrade Bananas – 6 pack
Organic Cherry Tomatoes – 250g €1.49
Oakhurst Chicken Breast Fillets
Seedless Mixed Grapes – 500g
packet of Mini Fine Green Beans
Fresh Irish Whole Chicken 2.2kg