Budget-Friendly Nutrition Tips for a Low-Cost, Complete Diet

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

You don’t need to be rich to eat like a king. Too many people avoid eating healthy because they feel it is too expensive or out of their price range. However, with simple, yet effective changes to the way you plan your meals and shop for groceries, you can save money while living a healthier lifestyle. Everyone loves a win-win situation.

Be mindful of these six steps and watch your wallet fatten as your stomach tightens.

1. Invest in a water bottle. A nice one, too, because it will be worth it in the long run. Water is essential to living and it is important to stay well hydrated throughout the day. Invest in a quality, durable water bottle that you can take anywhere — whether it be to work or the gym. There are water fountains to  re-fuel up at almost everywhere and you can also fill it with ice-cold water before leaving the house when your on-the-go. By doing this, you will save a lot of money from buying water bottles elsewhere, and it can’t be emphasized enough how annoying it is to walk back and forth to and from the water fountain in the gym in between reps!

2. Pack your lunch for work. This may sound like the last thing you want to do when you hear that alarm clock buzzing at 7 am, but you will be happy you did it. So will your wallet. That $7 you spend at Panera Bread every day for your lunch break will add up quickly if you don’t do something about it. If you would rather have that extra twenty minutes of sleep in the morning pack your lunch the night before and keep it refrigerated until you leave in the morning. Then, wake up and eat your breakfast, put your lunch in a plastic container (or lunch box) and be on your way.

3. Buy in bulk. Shopping for food at places like Costco or Sam’s Club can save a lot of money in the long run if you have a big family or just like to eat a lot. For most healthy, nutritional snack bars you can save up to a dollar or more per item, which adds up in the long run! You don’t need a Costco or Sam’s Club membership to buy in bulk, just choose the larger option at the grocery store of any snack size you want. Although it may cost more at the time to get the bigger size, the price per item will always be cheaper and you will save money down the road from not re-buying the smaller size over and over again. Also, always be sure to look for sales!

4. Snack smarter and more often. The more you snack healthy throughout the day the stronger and more efficient your metabolism will be. If you’re buying your snacks in bulk there is no reason why you can’t have two or three different snacks a day for at least a week or two before having to go shopping again. Snacking often will also help keep you from being too hungry and hold you over until your next meal. If you’re on-the-go fiber bars, fruits, nuts, and baby carrots with a dip all make for healthy, portable snacks. See our article on snacking to provide all-day energy here.

5. Buy fresh fruits. Buying fruits at the grocery store is actually trickier than it may seem. Many people buy too little because they are afraid of them going bad too soon. This causes the fruits to be the first thing to write back on the grocery list time after time. A variety of fruits should be purchased each trip to the grocery store and kept in proper storing environments. It is important to plan ahead so you know how much you will need before your next grocery store run. This leads to our next tip…

6. Shop smarter. Make a notebook and plan out your weekly meals. Try buying a journal or notebook and keep track of your shopping habits. Keep the notebook in the kitchen and write down items that you are running low on and other things that you absolutely need.  Write down the reason you want to get each food on your list. For energy? Quick snack? Breakfast? It’s like a grocery list on steroids. However, always make sure to stay within your budget. With each trip write down the amount you spend. Over time, that number should decrease as the level of your health increases. It is scientifically shown that visualizing something before it happens can greatly increase the chance at success.

As with any health or fitness routine, it is important to stick with it to see results!