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Eating Healthy on a Budget

Does eating healthy on a budget seem like a goal that’s out of reach for you?

After all, a healthy lifestyle does not come cheap.

As a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, I counsel many hard-working Canadians on how best to manage their finances. I have seen every type of financial situation imaginable. When reviewing the budgets of my clients, I full well know that…

Food has a huge impact on our budget.

It’s also variable. This means it’s easy to let our grocery bills get completely out of control.

But before we go into how it’s possible to trim the excess off our waists – and our wallets – let’s cover what eating healthy really means.

There’s a wide consensus that doing the following two things will vastly improve your current health:

  • Eat more whole foods (as opposed to processed foods); and
  • Eat more plants (fruits and veggies).

Sounds relatively easy, right?

But while most of us would love to follow these guidelines, we simply don’t have the time or the money.

Or at least, it feels like we don’t.

That’s because preparing and cooking these foods takes time. Out of convenience, many of us end up eating out or turning to take out or highly processed snacks that aren’t good for us.

And what with all the “organic this” and “no antibiotic that” – the bills just skyrocket upwards.

So how can you still eat healthy on a budget? The following 11 tips will help you and your family enjoy good nutrition while keeping an eye on the dollars.

Tip #1. Drink water

Take a hard pass on juices and sodas. This is the single best thing you can do for your health today. Plus, you’ll save money. Select a good water filter and drink filtered tap water, or invest in large jugs of inexpensive spring water. You may even find that the more you drink, the less you snack. That’s because sometimes our body mistakes thirst for hunger.

Tip #2. Buy what’s in season

Your freshest, most nutritious, and least expensive produce will be local. That’s because they are not frozen – or sprayed with chemicals – to keep them from going bad in transport across the country. Plus, as the seasons change, so do your local options. Your body will get a variety of different nutrients year-round as a result.

Tip #3. Buy what’s on sale

Stock up on sale items and eat as much of them as you can. Your grocery store typically changes what’s for sale every week, so you won’t get bored of eating the same thing. You can also look for new recipes online for the same ingredient to spice things up that week. There’s more than one way to eat zucchini!

Tip #4. You don’t have to buy everything organic

We’re all concerned about the state of our foods, particularly the effects of pesticides on produce. You don’t have to buy everything organic. Do some research online. Dr. Weil, one of the authorities on healthful living, has articles posted about foods that you should choose organic and those that don’t need to be. But keep in mind that eating vegetables and fruits – even if not organic – is far better than eating none at all.

Tip #5. Plan your meals – based on what’s on sale – in advance

Consult your local grocery store flyer and create a meal plan for the week based on this information. If it’s an ingredient you’re not used to cooking, look online for fun, new recipes. Planning also takes the guesswork out of what’s for dinner that week.

Tip #6. Only go shopping with a grocery list in hand

Once you know what you’re buying based on that store flyer, create a grocery list. If you’re looking at eating healthy on a budget, you need a grocery list – and you need to stick to it! This limits your impulse buys, which are typically foods that aren’t so good for you anyways. (I’m thinking chocolate aisle here, are you?)

Tip #7. Invest in a good multi-cooker

The best way to combat the time/convenience factor is to make your cooking process easier on you. Slow cookers and pressure cookers (or those amazing machines that do both, like Instant Pots) are incredible for putting together meals in advance, so they’re ready when you are to eat. Plus, it’s typically one-pot cooking, which means you throw ingredients in and out comes a culinary masterpiece! There are many free online recipes to try.

Tip #8. Have healthy foods ready to eat on the fly

If you want to limit your intake of processed meals and snacks, then have healthy options ready at your fingertips. For example, boil some eggs the night before so they’re ready to eat for a quick breakfast. Wash, cut, and ziplock bag or Pyrex-store some fruits and vegetables like oranges, cherries, strawberries, or carrots. If they’re available, you may find you’ll eat them more readily than if they weren’t. And you might even discover how good whole foods taste in comparison to processed ones.

Tip #9. Keep leftovers in the fridge where you can see them

It’s very easy to forget about last night’s leftovers the next day. I tend to push them to the back of the fridge, and then throw them out a week later. To avoid this, keep them where you can see them and easily access them. It might even save you from having to prepare dinner the next evening.

In the same vein, don’t let foods go to waste. If you have prepared a lot of veggies earlier in the week but didn’t end up cooking them, consider blending them into a smoothie or freezing them in a freezer-safe plastic container. Or make some pasta sauce and freeze it for when you’re ready to use it.

Tip #10. Figure out if what you’re feeling is actually hunger – or something else

Many of us snack or eat out of boredom, anxiety, even happiness. Before you grab something to eat, really do some internal checking to figure out whether you’re actually hungry. Find out if something is gnawing at you – before you start gnawing on something else.

Tip # 11. Contact A Licensed Insolvency Trustee

Are you looking to find some extra dollars in your budget so you can pay down your debts? Our offices can help you. As a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, we provide the full range of debt relief options, from simple budgeting all the way to bankruptcy.

Your initial consultation is free. We’ll review your financial circumstances and advise you on the options available to you to achieve debt relief. We’ll even give you our opinion on the best solution for you. There is no pressure on your part to take action. Just arm yourself with the knowledge that there is hope to achieve your financial goals and dreams.

Let us help you toward the goal of financial freedom. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Mary-Ann Marriott

Mary Ann has been working in the insolvency industry for 25 years. In 2005 Mary Ann received her Chartered Insolvency & Restructuring Professional (CIRP) designation and attained her license as a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) in 2014. She is passionate about helping others become financially literate, and has been a guest speaker to various groups and organizations on the topic of Money Management. Mary-Ann also hosts a weekly radio show, as a volunteer in her community. Her tagline is “Helping you have happier, healthier finances”.