10 Simple and Budget-Friendly Ways to Improve Your Nutrition

fresh food marketEating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. With some simple changes to your shopping habits, meal planning, and preparation techniques, you can easily improve your nutrition without breaking the bank. Follow these 10 budget-friendly tips to get more nutritional bang for your buck. Planning out your meals and snacks for the week ahead of time can help you save money on groceries. You’ll buy only what you need.

1. Buy Fruits and Vegetables In Season

Eating produce that’s currently in season can save you money compared to out-of-season items that may be priced higher due to shipping and import costs. Check what’s ripe and ready around your area each month and plan your recipes accordingly. Going to farmers’ markets is another great way to get fresh, local produce on a budget. Buying in bulk during peak season and freezing the extras to enjoy later also helps you to cut costs. Take advantage of the abundance.

2. Opt for Frozen Produce

Flash frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen at peak ripeness, meaning they can pack more nutrients than fresh varieties that have been sat in storage for days or weeks on end. The cost savings are there too – frozen is often significantly less expensive. Just be mindful of any added sugars or salt in flavored frozen options by comparing the nutrition labels. Check the ingredients lists and aim for single ingredient frozen produce without sauces or seasonings.

3. Cook at Home More

Preparing meals at home enables you to control the nutritional quality and portions. It also saves a bundle compared to dining out, which can be very expensive when you take the whole family. Take one night a week to batch prep healthy leftovers or staples to eliminate midweek meal fatigue as a barrier. The more you cook at home, the more money you will save. Double the recipes on the weekends and freeze half for quick thaw-and-eat meals later. 

4. Supplement Strategically

Research shows many Americans fall short on key nutrients for optimal health, making supplementation beneficial for some. But the variety of products and prices points can be overwhelming. Check the actual % Daily Value levels of each ingredient on the labels to compare the products. Sign up for promotions from reputable brands offering discount codes and buy on sale when possible. Compare the costs per serving when factoring in the number of pills per bottle or capsule to get the best value. You can even get supplements at a discount by signing up to sites that scour the web for codes and deals.

5. Choose Less Processed Options

Heavily processed foods often contain excessive sodium, sugar, unhealthy fats, and chemical additives that you just don’t need. And the convenience comes at a premium price. Opting for simple, whole food alternatives like fresh fruit instead of fruit snacks, nuts and seeds instead of granola bars, or making your own soups and smoothies can nourish your body and wallet. Focus on single ingredient foods that offer nutritional substance over flashy packaging and misleading claims. 

6. Stay Hydrated on a Budget

Water supports nearly every bodily function, but buying bottled water gets expensive. Save money (and plastic) by investing in a BPA-free, refillable bottle or pitcher with a filter built in if your tap water taste needs improving. Herbal tea, black coffee and seltzer water can provide hydration too. Adding lemon, mint or fruit infuses basic water with a bit of flavor for free. Keep a water bottle on hand at all times to sip from throughout the day.

7. Avoid Spoilage and Waste

Around 25% of all groceries purchased end up in landfills, wasting both money and nutritional value. The best ways to reduce waste are planning weekly menus, properly storing fruits/veggies, freezing surplus and repurposing leftovers into new dishes later in the week. Composting food scraps or purchasing “ugly” produce at a discount can eliminate additional waste. Learn optimal storage methods for different produce items to maximize their freshness in the fridge or on the counter.

8. Seek Out Sales and Store Loyalty Programs

Check store flyers and websites for digital coupons on healthier items before adding anything to your cart. Load e-coupons directly onto your loyalty card for additional automatic discounts at checkout. Some retailers allow you to stack manufacturer’s coupons on top of sales prices, multiplying your savings on wholesome foods. Search online sites and apps for any additional coupon codes you can apply to your grocery orders.

9. Swap Shelf Stable Convenience for Speed-Scratch

Canned soups and jarred sauces might seem faster but upgrading a few pantry staples makes whipping up homemade equivalents just as easy. Canned tomatoes, broths, beans and whole grains like quinoa, farro or brown rice provide the base. Then flavor building blocks like garlic, onions, herbs and spices do the work so you don’t have to. A well-stocked pantry minimizes the need for last-minute grocery store trips which often lead to more impulse buys. 

10. Supplement Your Diet with a Garden

One of the most budget-friendly ways to up your produce intake is to grow some of your own. Herb gardens provide the best bang for buck, requiring just a sunny window. You can then expand into cherry tomatoes, leafy greens, carrots, peas and more. Container gardening enables apartment dwellers and those without a yard to reap the same benefits. And you can never beat that just-picked freshness. Consider planting fruit trees or berry bushes for added vitamins and antioxidants. You never know, it could even become your new favorite hobby!

Achieving better nutrition doesn’t have to drain your wallet. Minor habit shifts like shopping seasonal produce, freezing surplus, cooking at home more and reducing waste can make your grocery dollars stretch further. Invest that savings into higher quality foods like extra vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Your body and budget will thank you. Small changes really do add up to big savings over time. What are you waiting for!

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