For most folks, food is the first place they look to cut costs. The difficult part is figuring out how to do it without completely derailing your efforts to eat healthy. The Los Angeles Times reported results from a 2013 British study, which found eating nutritious foods costs an average of $1.48 more per day than going with unhealthy stuff. While it might seem like a shopping cart full of instant noodles and 10 cans of condensed soup for $10 is the only choice, there are a number of ways you can fight back against unhealthy eating without going broke.
Follow these five strategies, and you could score a leaner physique and a fatter wallet.
1. Embrace non-meat proteins
You’ve probably heard other folks talk about Meatless Monday, and maybe rolled your eyes, but you’d be wise to join them. Mayo Clinic shared findings from a study that revealed people who ate the most red meat were 30% more likely to die during a 10-year period than those who ate the least. Beans, lentils, and tofu are all good choices, but don’t forget about non-meat animal proteins. Eggs, cheese, yogurt, and milk are full of the muscle-building nutrient without the same price tag.
2. Cut down on eating out
Fine-dining options can cost hundreds for just one meal, but even moderately priced restaurants can lead to bills over $30 per person. FitDay pointed out you can easily prepare multiple meals at home with the amount of money you’d spend on one restaurant meal. If you dine out several times per week, you may be able to convert that money into your entire weekly food budget by cooking yourself.
3. Plan meals and preserve extras to avoid waste
Food waste is a huge problem in the U.S., but it’s probably worse than most would guess. The Washington Post shared findings from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, which said Americans threw out 35 million tons of food in 2012. In fact, we toss out more food than plastic, paper, and other waste. Tossing the ingredients you purchase into the trash isn’t going to save you any money, so it’s time to start planning a little more carefully. Instead of letting leftovers languish in the fridge until they’ve turned a completely different color, make note of what you’ll eat within a week and freeze anything extra. Lastly, don’t buy what you know you won’t eat.
4. Stick to your grocery list
Take your mom’s lead and make a grocery list before every visit to the store. The Huffington Post said going with this timeless strategy ensures you won’t forget anything, and it also prevents you from buying products you don’t need. Loading up on too many extras will leave you with more than you can eat in a reasonable amount of time, leading to wasted food.
From a health perspective, sticking to a grocery list is one of the best strategies for eating well. Reuters reported one study found folks who shopped with a list made healthier food choices and had lower body weights than those who didn’t. A well-planned trip usually includes stocking up on things like fruits, vegetables, and grains, without much room for chips, cookies, or soda. And just say no to candy in the checkout aisle.
5. Go for local food
Local food gets tons of hype from health experts as well as professional chefs, and for good reason. Fruits and vegetables from nearby have a chance to fully ripen before being picked, so they contain more nutrients and taste better. Rodale Institute explained enzymes begin to break down nutrients in produce the moment it’s picked, so spending days on a truck can significantly diminish the quality of even the healthiest foods. Since seasonal eating forces you to shift to different foods as they become available, you’ll score a more diverse array of nutrients than if you always stick to the same eats.