Eating healthy is often a lifestyle change in more ways than one—not only are you making choices for your body, but you're also probably making choices for your budget as well. (Kale ain't cheap, y'all.)
So what's a young, broke woman supposed to do when eating a 25 cent ramen packet seems way more appealing than spending $25 on ingredients for one healthy dish at home? Well, first off—don't pay that much. There are far too many ways to save some serious cash when preparing good-for-you meals. We promise. Here's how to eat cheaply and still get the good stuff.
Tip #1: Buy in-season foods
Yes, nowadays (thanks to our global market and economy) you can pretty much find any food stocked at your grocery store. But that convenience doesn't come cheap. When you buy in-season, you're buying from an abundance of food—meaning cheaper prices and better taste. Plan accordingly (opens in new tab).
Tip #2: Make it stretch
If you're cooking for one, or even two, we get it—it's hard to save any type of money when buying ingredients that will go bad after a few days. So make sure you're planning wisely. Use ingredients up by planning meals with the same veggies or grains, or make big batches that you can freeze and eat later.
Tip #3: Buy non-perishables in bulk to lock in savings
Sure, veggies go bad—but non-perishables like grains and beans and canned proteins (tuna, anyone?) don't.. So make sure you stock up on the things you'll use when they go on sale, and if you can swing it (ah, storage space!), buy in bulk to save even more money. (Psstt…Make sure you're checking costs per item/unit when buying in bulk to make sure you're not actually spending more.)
Tip #4: Plan your meals around what's on sale
It seems obvious, but planning your meals around what's on sale is an easy way to save some moolah. Save those meals and recipes until the ingredients are discounted—then go to town.
Tip #5: Put that slow cooker to use
A simple way to save money is to buy cheap cuts of meat. The problem? Cheaper cuts of meat are, well, cheaper for a reason—and they're probably going to be tough. But you know what solves that problem? A slow cooker. Pull that sucker out and slow cook your meats until they're delicious and falling off the bone, or cut into chunks and use for stews and chilies or all those recipes you have pinned on Pinterest. (Don't even think we don't know about those.)
Tip #6: Time your shopping right
Farmers markets are great, but make sure you time your trip right by going at peak days (AKA if it's open for three days a week, go on the third), and peak times (an hour before closing). Oftentimes, sellers don't want to load all that stuff to take it back (and have it go bad), so you're more likely to score deals.
Tip #7: Use those leftovers (or your mistakes with Seamless)
Heat up that fried rice with some more veggies and put into a tortilla for a new Asian-fusion burrito. Cook up that turkey burger and add an egg and potatoes for a new take on corned beef hash. Creativity means better tasting food and more money in your pocket. Cha-ching.
Tip #8: Expand your horizons
Ethnic markets are awesome for scoring authentic products and interesting ingredients on the cheap. Plus, you'll be able to incorporate some great-tasting spices into your meals—meaning more flavor, and less pricier ingredients.
Tip #9: Plan, plan, plan
You may think it takes a lot of time (you're busy!), but planning around sales and what you'll eat shouldn't—especially when you have so many awesome sites at your disposal. From Supercook (opens in new tab) that lets you plug in the items you already have in your fridge to come up with awesome recipes to try to MyGroceryDeals (opens in new tab) which lets you see sales in your area, a little prep work can make a big difference.
You should also check out:
11 Seemingly Unhealthy Foods That Aren't So Bad for You (opens in new tab)
How to Save Like French Women (opens in new tab)
The Lazy Girl's Guide to Saving Money Online (opens in new tab)
Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for Latina.com, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.
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