My friends always come to me and ask how I eat so healthy while staying on a budget. A lot of them shy away from cooking and tend to buy pre-packaged food whether it’s at the grocery store or at a fast food restaurant then they complain that they feel sluggish and their bank account is taking a dive. When I tell them they would save money and feel healthier just by going food shopping once a week and learning how to prepare a few meals, they usually come back at me and say vegetables are too expensive, they have no time time to cook, and even if they did, they don’t know how.
I’m here to give some advice to those of you who feel the same way because I promise that once you learn how to shop correctly and prepare a few basic healthy meals for yourself, your waistline and your wallet will start feeling much healthier!
5 Popular Excuses Debunked!
1) Vegetables are expensive so I don’t buy them. – If you’re on a budget, be sure that plan ahead when you go grocery shopping to be sure that you don’t purchase fresh produce that you won’t use and therefore have to throw away. If it’s in your budget, buy organic produce that doesn’t have a covering for example it’s better to buy organic berries but not organic bananas because the outside of berries are eatable while the outside of the banana is not. When buying, don’t forget to let the sales dictate what you will be eating that week. If there’s a sale on potatoes and onions, be sure to stock up. You can use them this week and in the coming weeks for various dishes, saving you money in the long run. Also, always stock up on frozen vegetables such as peas, corn, broccoli, and spinach. They are always inexpensive and a great way to complement your fresh options.
2) Meat comes in large packs and is expensive too. – If you are not a vegetarian, chances are you will be buying some sort of meat product at the grocery store and most likely the best prices will be on the bulk items, so that’s what you should plan on purchasing and you will save money. When you’re planning your weekly shopping list and you see that chicken, beef, or lamb is on sale (same goes for any type of seafood), be sure to purchase your favorite even if it’s in bulk. Those of you living in small households should still purchase the bulk item. The trick is, as soon as you get home, unpack your groceries and separate the meat into meal portions. For example if you have 3 people in your household, be sure to put three servings of the meat into one Tupperware container or plastic freezer bag. Do this with all your meat and seafood. That way when you’re looking to make the hamburger, all you have to do is defrost one of the containers. It’s also a great way to have a well stocked freezer.
3) I don’t know how to stock my pantry. – A well stocked pantry includes basics such as pasta (rigatoni and spaghetti are my two favorites); canned whole peeled or crushed tomatoes; tomato paste; beef, chicken, and/or vegetable broth; canned and dried beans (black, white, and garbanzo); brown rice; olive oil; vegetable oil; spices (salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes, paprika, oregano, cumin); flour; eggs; milk; and some sort of cheese whether it’s cheddar or Parmigiano Reggiano, it will last you a week or two. You don’t have to go out and purchase all of these ingredients at once, but be sure to try to incorporate them into your budget so that these ingredients become a part of your daily meals.
4) I don’t have time or the skills to cook. – In my humble opinion everyone has a little time and some skills to cook for themselves. You don’t have to cook an elaborate meal that’s going to take you two hours, but you can put together a quick soup that will take 10 minutes of prep then hands off until it’s done. Stay in touch with my website to get quick and simple recipes and techniques that you will be able to use in your own kitchen.
5) It’s easier to pick up lunch and/or dinner from a store or restaurant. – It’s not that I don’t enjoy going out to lunch and dinner, it’s just that I can’t afford to do it all the time, not only for my wallet but also my health. When you go out to eat, you have no control over what you are putting into your body. But, when you’re cooking for yourself, you control the ingredients. It’s also much cheaper! You can buy a bowl of soup for $5 or make a large pot of soup for $5 that will be your dinner and lunch. If you’re making dinner, be sure to make a little extra for lunch the next day or roll the ingredients into your next meal (keep in touch at MBeeWell because I’ll be sure to give you some ideas for rollover meals).
I hope the next time you plan on calling for take out, you decide to go food shopping instead and try out a simple recipe. I promise you will be living a healthier life with some extra cash in your pocket and a smile on your face!