by Shannon Clark
Feel like sticking with a healthy diet plan involves breaking the bank? For many people, the notion that eating healthy is a costly one is commonplace. And while it may be true that certain healthy foods will cost more than less healthy counterparts (Mac & Cheese anyone?), this isn’t always the case.
In fact, if you compare the costs of eating healthy to the costs of eating out all the time in fast food or sit down establishments, you’d quickly come to see that home prepared food is almost always more cost effective.
This said, let’s give you a few quick tips to know and remember that will help you eat right on the cheap.
Buy In Bulk
First, don’t overlook the bulk bins. This is a great place to buy staples such as brown rice, barley, nuts, spices, and oatmeal. You’ll pay more when you purchase these foods pre-packaged, so there’s simply no reason to waste money like this.
Check out the bulk aisle next time you’re in store and see what deals you can find.
Watch For Sales and Stock Up
Another smart move is to watch for sales on certain non-perishable items and stock up when you see them. For instance, when chicken goes on sale, buy enough for 20-25 servings. Chicken freezes incredibly well, so you can keep it for months and use as needed (obviously you will need the freezer space).
The same goes for fish and beef. Other good products to stock up on when on sale are staples like olive oil, nut butters, canned fish, and other healthy sauces or condiments. Remember that every penny saved will add up over time.
Choose Lower Cost Protein Sources
Protein is typically the most expensive part of eating right, so knowing which sources are most cost effective will work to your benefit.
Lower cost options include whole eggs, canned tuna, cottage cheese, along with ground turkey breast (which is far lower fat than ground beef).
Don’t overlook whey protein powder as well. Many people think it’s a very pricey supplement and when looking at the tag of $50+ per five pounds, it can be, but when you break it down, most varieties come in right around $1 per serving.
This is far cheaper than most other protein sources you are likely consuming.
Be Smart With Produce
Finally, when it comes to produce, which can also get quite pricey, there are two tricks to know here.
First, only choose organic varieties when shopping for the ‘dirty dozen’. This includes apples, strawberries, blueberries, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes, hot peppers, and kale/collard greens. For these, if you can, go organic.
For all the others, you just don’t need to unless you have money to burn.
Second, consider making good use of frozen or canned vegetables (look for low salt/low sugar varieties). These will still contain mostly all of the same great nutrients, only at a fraction of the cost. Plus, they are faster to cook with – an added bonus for those in a time crunch.
So keep these quick tips in mind next time you’re rethinking making healthier changes to your diet due to the costs involved. Plan wisely and it really isn’t that expensive.
Shannon Clark has a degree in Exercise Science and is an AFLCA certified personal trainer. She has written on the topics of health, fitness and nutrition for the last 8 years. Her insights are regularly published on bodybuilding.com, askmen.com and FitRated.com. FitRated is a leading fitness equipment review site offering expert commentary on equipment, workout plans and weight loss strategies.