Want to eat healthier but not sure if your budget can handle it? Join the club! Fortunately, it’s often a myth that eating healthy has to cost a lot of money. Or, at least that eating well costs a lot more than eating junk.
With processed foods looking attractive to anyone on a budget ($1 for dinner!), it may sometimes be hard to resist the somewhat tempting deals for pre-made food in your weekly grocery flyer.
That’s why I’m here to help! (Picture me in a cape if you wish… a la superwoman coming to save you from making choices that are bad for your wallet and your waistline).
Luckily there are many options for eating healthy on a budget. Some need more prep, but ultimately each one is better for your health and your pocketbook when you factor in all the “hidden” costs of a processed or industrial foods diet.
Here are 5 of my favourite ways to eat healthy on a budget:
1. Make your own almond or other nut milk.
Not only can you control the quality of the ingredients (for example, raw, organic almonds versus roasted or conventionally grown almonds), you can save money and support your health goals by making this dairy-free staple in your own kitchen. Want to know how? Check out my tutorial on making your own almond milk (you can easily swap in other seeds or nuts –or better yet, make a blend if almond milk doesn’t float your boat!)
2. Make your own salad dressings.
Even simple combinations of different oils + vinegars + seasonings are delicious and in my opinion always superior to packaged junk-laden grocery store salad dressings.
You can combine your favourite oil (olive, flax, hemp, coconut, pumpkin seed, etc. – just please try to limit canola, sunflower, safflower, etc. because we usually get more than enough omega-6 fatty acids in our diets already) with your fav vinegar, like apple cider vinegar, white wine, rice wine or balsamic or other acid (lemon or lime juice, etc.).
I like a ratio of 3 tablespoons of oil per 1 tablespoon of vinegar or acid. Season well with salt and pepper. You can also add other spices or flavour boosters like fresh garlic or ginger if you like.
Homemade salad dressings provide excellent boosts in flavour for even simple salads, no matter if it’s spring, summer, fall or winter!
Check out some of my fav salad dressings on this site, like my Creamy Citrus Dressing (a tahini-based dressing that will stand up to winter and root vegetables of all kinds). You might also like my Maple-Spiced Dressing.
3. Make homemade versions of staples you buy often.
It’s very simple to make your own applesauce, your own homemade fruit jam or savoury jam/chutney, and even your own dairy-free ice cream. You can even make your own flavoured vinegar, like my chive blossom vinegar. (I covet this all through the winter months and my stash is still going strong!) Try making your own custom flavoured vinegars, which are usually so.much.better than store-bought.
Making staple foods from scratch and then either freezing them or canning them for the future helps you cut down on waste, save money and enjoy tremendous health benefits, especially reduced sodium and sugar.
Cutting down on both of these is key for anyone who wants to feel well, improve their mental health, stay fit, lose weight or manage their diabetes, among other health conditions.
4. Grow your own fresh sprouts.
While conventional (not organic) fresh sprouts in the grocery stores often sell for $2.99 or more per plastic clam shell (about 1 generous cup or so), at least in my neighbourhood, you can grow your own fresh, organic sprouts for just pennies a serving.
If a seed packet costs $2 to $3 and yields about 12 cups total, one cup of alfalfa, grown at home, might cost you just $1.12.
That’s a steal! Growing your own sprouts is super simple, too. Want to flex your green thumb? Check out my recent tutorial detailing the 6 easy steps to grow your own healthy sprouts and lots of other helpful info like to where to buy sprouting seeds.
5. Avoid the coffee chains and make your own gourmet coffee at home.
If you’re a coffee drinker and flavoured coffees are your gig, it’s much cheaper and healthier to make your own. Try adding a stick of cinnamon or a vanilla bean to your coffee grounds for a special breakfast treat.
For more ideas, check out a few of my favourite homemade gourmet coffee combinations. Hopefully these ideas inspire you (and help convince you!) that eating healthy and well doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
Now, I’d love to know, what’s YOUR favourite way to save money when eating healthy?
Life is a plate… Eat up!