I’m a huge advocate for eating fresh, nutrient-dense foods, but let’s be honest, it can be expensive to purchase and time-intensive to prepare. Value menu items at the local drive-thru can be difficult to pass on when you are short on time and after checking out some of the prices at the local Whole Foods I can understand why you would want to throw your hands up and avoid cooking at home at all. However, by consistently eating out you increase your chances of overeating, increasing the amount of unhealthy fats and sodium and decreasing the amount of nutrient-dense foods in your diet. The temptation of a quick, wallet-friendly meal can definitely outweigh the cons of slaving away in the kitchen with high-priced ingredients; fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make healthy living more affordable and less time-intensive:
- Buy in Bulk: Look into a Costco or Sam’s Club membership to purchase non-perishable items in bulk such as protein powder, nuts, oats etc. OR if you are lucky enough to live close to an Aldi, they have amazing, generic brands at incredibly reduced prices.A lot of the time the generic brands are the same product as name brands just with a different label.
- Freeze produce that is about to go bad: You can either freeze produce in large, Ziploc Bags, or blend them up and create ice cubes to use later in smoothies. This stretches your produce a bit more as it does tend to go bad quickly.
- Freeze meat before its “best by” date: If you are able to purchase meat on sale, buy large quantities and freeze it. Simply defrost in the fridge when you are ready to use it and as long as it’s not freezer burned it will still taste great!
- Buy vegetables that are in season: For example Avocados are around $1.29 per pound during the summer and close to $3.99 per pound during the winter months! Look for items that are seasonal as they will be cheaper OR purchase frozen veggies in the freezer section. Frozen veggies have similar nutritional benefits as fresh veggies and are much more wallet-friendly.
- Look for cheaper protein sources such as Eggs, canned tuna or salmon, and protein powder.
- Meal plan: By planning out your meals for the week you avoid purchasing too much food or wasting meals. This also saves time as you only make one grocery trip for the entire week.
- What about organic foods, aren’t they better for me: Not really! Cut costs and purchase regular produce. Avoid the dirty dozen but everything else is fine to purchase from the normal produce section.
- What if I’m bored eating the same thing all the time: Use seasonings and spices to mix things up but be sure to check sodium levels first!
To conclude, there definitely are less expensive, simple meals to make that are easy on your budget and your schedule, the key is to plan ahead!
Below you will find some quick, easy suggestions to create complete, macro friendly meals without breaking the bank. Of course, you can always reach out to us if you need assistance meal planning and/or budgeting.
Proteins: Eggs, Canned fish, Protein Powder
Carbohydrates: Oats, Frozen veggies, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes
Fats: Nuts, Olive Oil, Butter, Coconut Oil