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How to Make your Meals Healthy and Affordable

 

You don't have to spend a lot to be healthy

These days, in a time when unhealthy American chain restaurants provide cheap meals across the globe, it’s a common misconception that healthy eating is unaffordable.  In actuality, eating healthy is more affordable because you get a greater nutritional bang for your buck – but the ease and convenience of take out and pre-packaged foods can be tempting.  Here are a few money saving strategies that will help keep costs down on healthy foods.

Cook your meals.  It cannot go unsaid because it’s a great strategy.  For me, this doesn’t mean slaving over a hot stove nightly but instead, making a lot more food than I can eat in one sitting.  By doing so, I have lunch to bring to work and I freeze portioned leftovers for when I need a meal in a pinch.

Use seasonal or frozen ingredients.  Buying seasonally is advantageous because the produce is usually fresher (and lasts longer), the cost is lower (there is abundance), and the taste is better (it’s in peak season).  When you can’t buy seasonally, choose frozen.  Frozen fruits and vegetables taste great because they are frozen at the peak of their freshness.

Keep staple foods on hand.  This will make it easier to prepare quick meals.  I like to keep frozen vegetables, quick cooking grains, and lean canned protein (beans or tuna fish) in my pantry.  Some quick cooking whole grains include oats, amaranth, quinoa, or bulgur.

Be a savvy shopper.  There are a few tips you can use to save money at the store:

  • Buy generic brands. 
  • Bulk or larger portions.  Grains, beans, or other items that have a long shelf life are often significantly cheaper per portion if you buy the larger containers.
  • Unprepared foods.  Even grated cheese costs more than a whole block – you pay for the convenience of not grating.
  • Make your own snack packs.  Trendy items, such as 100 calorie snack packs are not very affordable.  You can often make your own for a fraction of the cost.

Grow your own.  Even if you only have a window sill garden, growing your own herbs will help you save money and ensure that you always have fresh flavors on hand.

If you follow these guidelines, you can have flavorful, satisfying meals at a fraction of the cost of eating out!

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