While the majority of Americans want to eat healthier, many find it easier said than done. In fact, a whopping 52 percent of Americans believe that doing their income taxes is easier than understanding how to make healthy food choices, according to a recent study conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation. Not only that, but eating healthy is also more expensive. How much so? Harvard researchers have determined that eating healthy costs approximately $1.50 more per day. While it may not sound like much, it adds up to $550 over the course of a year!
So what’s a health-conscious, budget-minded person to do? Consider these five fabulous tips for spending less and getting healthy.
1. Stick with Seasonal
Fresh produce is tasty, delicious and packed with nutrients, but the cost can seem prohibitive – particularly if you’re buying strawberries in winter and clementines in summer. Wondering what’s in season? Check out these handy guidelines from Fruits & Veggies More Matters.
Go ahead and stock up: all fruits and veggies can be frozen so you can still enjoy your favorite flavors throughout the year.
Another tip is to take advantage of low seasonal prices. Head to your local farmers’ market at the end of the day when sellers are unloading their unsold goods.
2. Bulk Up
Buying foods like quinoa, beans and brown rice in bulk not only trims your bills, but also helps stretch meals a bit further because they can be used as filler in meat dishes – like chili. The result? Your meals will not only cost less, but you’ll still get the same great flavor without an excess of unhealthy red meats. An added bonus? Grains like whole-wheat couscous are chock full of fiber, which helps you stay full longer.
And while you’re at it, learn to love leftovers. If eating the same thing night after night is an unappealing prospect, practice the art of repurposing leftovers into a different – yet equally healthy – entree, and see if anyone even notices.
3. Get with the Plan(ning)
Rather than heading to the grocery store and letting your appetite take the lead, plan your meals in advance. In addition to weekly circular coupons, most grocery stores offer savings cards with terrific deals. Frozen vegetables, for example, are often available for the low price of 10 for $10. But you have to know about the sale to take advantage of it, so be diligent in your efforts to keep up.
4. Think International
Fare from other cultures – including Mexican, Indian and Middle Eastern foods– often contain less pricey ingredients, such as rice, beans and chickpeas. Time-tested spice blends, meanwhile, ensure that they’re full of flavor.
If you live near an ethnic market, try shopping there. You’ll not only find better deals, but you’ll also discover a broader selection of items. Asian markets, for example, typically have a large inventory of discount rice noodles, condiments, and even cheaper fish and produce.
5. Get Up Close and Personal with Your Pantry
Let’s face it: organizing your pantry or fridge probably falls somewhere between a trip to the dentist and cleaning the toilet on your list of favorite activities. However, if saving money also has a place on that list, keeping your ingredients and supplies labeled and organized can minimize food waste and maximize your budget.
Ultimately, whether your goal is to show off your beach body or to reduce your risk of everything from cancer to cardiovascular disease, eating right is a large part of the equation. The benefits are manifold: not only will you look great on the beach this summer, you may be able to splurge on that new two-piece you’ve been eyeing while also looking forward to better health all year long.
Joanna Hughes writes on all things lifestyle – from fashion to fitness.