With the state of the economy being what it is, it is more important than ever to be smart with your money. Being on a budget, even a food budget, doesn't have to mean going without healthy and nutritious foods. You just need to be a little savvier with your time and a lot more conscious about what you're putting on your table and in your mouth.
1. Explore Your Farmer's Market or Community Co-op
The very best way to buy produce is to buy it locally. You not only help to keep the local economy going strong, you also support your local farmers and enjoy knowing where your food is coming from. It is inspiring when you can talk directly with the person who grew your broccoli and ask them about their growing and harvesting practices. Another great benefit to buying through these venues is that you can buy produce when it is in season, purchasing it in bulk and freeze or can it to use later, which can save you a bundle!
2. Learn to Love Leftovers
This is a great way to utilize a few basic ingredients and modify them slightly to create a whole new dish the next night. A great base to start out with is a protein, like chicken. Have baked chicken on Monday night with sauteed veggies as a side dish and convert those same ingredients into a pot-pie the next night. This cuts down on cooking and prep time for you as well as the shopping time necessary to find all those new ingredients to make a completely new meal.
3. Brown Bag It
Taking leftovers in your lunch is another great way to eat healthy on a budget. You have already gone to all of the trouble of cooking a healthy meal the night before so why not take that healthy meal and put it in your lunch? All of the work is done for you - all you have to do is open and enjoy! If you don't have leftovers, you should still create and take your lunch to cut down on eating out.
4. Eat at Home
We have taken eating out for granted. It should be a treat done enjoyed every once in a while - not several times a week. Most takeout food is far from healthy and is actually quite expensive. Okay, some food is actually pretty darn cheap, but you're getting what you pay for and the cheaper the food, the more likely it is to be unhealthy as well. When you buy and cook correctly, an average dinner shouldn't cost more than a few dollars per person.
5. Just Say No to the Latte Stand!
Those little stands suck so much cash from people's pockets every day that it is amazing any of us still have money to pay the bills. An average latte is never less than three bucks and if you add an extra shot or some flavoring, you're looking at a lot more. Of course, there is also the temptation of a muffin or biscotti and those tasty fruit smoothies are also enticing. Every one of them is laden with fat and they are expensive as well. Water should be your best drink friend and you can get that for free so put your wallet away and drive on by that stand.
These are just a few cost-cutting ideas that you can try. Incorporate one or all of them and see how much you can save and still be healthy!