Sometimes it’s hard to plan healthy meals on a budget, especially if you’re trying to lose weight – but it doesn’t have to be. With the right habits, you’re well on your way to creating healthy meals the whole family will love without breaking the bank. For advice on creating healthy and affordable breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, read below.
Plan Ahead of Time
Planning ahead of time will prevent you from splurging on unnecessary food items when you’re most tempted. We advocate making plenty of weekly menus. Decide which lunch and dinner recipes you’ll make for the week, and record them on a menu-planner form like this. We’re big fans of planning meals because you’re less likely to make impromptu trips to your local burger joint or dive into a bag of chips if you already have a healthy plan in place.
Be Cheap in These Ways
Purchasing excess ingredients for elaborate meals adds up, so let your yourself be cheap in the following ways. Firstly, plan meals around foods that are on sale in store flyers, newspaper inserts, and coupon sites, but make sure you actually use and eat the foods you buy. Before purchasing any food, first check your fridge or freezer. You may find hearty foods that can be thawed out and cooked for all to enjoy. Just make sure to check the expiration dates on frozen items from days or weeks past!
Eat This, Not That
Eating certain kinds of healthy foods will protect your savings. While cooking on a budget, prepare plenty of grains like rice, quinoa, barley, oats, and farro. Packed with antioxidants and proteins, these grains are not only healthy but affordable too.
Also avoid recipes requiring special ingredients, which quickly deplete your food savings. When deciding whether or not to purchase miscellaneous ingredients, ask yourself how much they cost, if they come in small or large packages, and if you’ll use them again. Instead of investing in new spices, sauces, and other ingredients, use ones you already have. This can be a fun kitchen experiment that may leave you feeling quite happy with your final dish.
Lastly, avoid cooking too much meat. We recommend planning at least one meatless meal a week. You can easily substitute meat with other foods high in protein like beans, lentils, dried peas, tofu, and peanut butter. Seasonal vegetables and fruit are also cheap and can be a delicious, healthy substitute for meat-heavy diets.
Think About Future Meals
Making extras is another good strategy. Instead of only using a portion of the ingredients you purchase, cook the whole portion at once to easily eat the next day. By adopting this strategy, you’ll avoid letting veggies, meats, and sauces go bad in the fridge. Plus, using leftovers can be a fun, creative project. Think of ways to use all your leftovers for other meals by accessing your inner chef. For example, you can use your previous night’s chicken and rice for chicken sandwiches the next day with rice on the side. You have room to be creative here – and it pays off with a future meal that’s both tasty and cheap!
Building Healthy Habits
You have everything you need to create cheap, easy, and healthy meals on a budget. Now, you just have to be disciplined and follow through with a cooking routine that suits your needs and budget. We hope these helpful tips allow you to enjoy some tasty, highly affordable meals this week and for weeks to come.