Yesterday, I was in need of some healthy-eating ideas. So I ended up searching for “healthy eating” on Pinterest, where all inspiration is found.
But there was one problem: Pinterest, as usual, gave me an insane amount of healthy recipes and meal ideas. But most of them were really complicated or had unusual ingredients that I don’t normally buy. So I ended up wasting a lot of time finding a not-so-hard recipe with the ingredients that I had. There has to be a better way!
Have you ever found a recipe that looks great, but requires 10 different ingredients, and you only have 6 of them?
The Easiest Way to Eat Healthy on a Budget is to Keep It Simple
I’ve found that the easiest and cheapest way to eat healthy is to keep is simple. As simple as possible.
Ways to Keep it Simple & Save Money:
1. Keep your favorite fruits & vegetables easily accessible
To start with, keeping it simple and healthy means easy-peasy plain fruits and veggies. Focus on getting 1 serving of fruit or 1 serving of vegetables at every meal. No exceptions!
Are you getting a naughty McDonald’s take out? Add an apple or a few baby carrots.
Are you feeling a little hungry? Instead of hitting the cookie box, go for your favorite fruit or vegetable first. We try to make sure that we have at least one kind of “favorite” fruit available each week as well as one kind of “favorite” vegetable snack. So we might buy a bag of pears and some fresh cucumbers to munch on for snacks.
We put them on the kitchen countertop or make them very accessible in the fridge to keep them top of mind.
2. Keep meat to a minimum
First of all, meat is expensive, so we try to stretch it as far as we can. Here are some of the ways we do that:
- Replace meat with new favorite items: We add beans to tacos and quesadillas so that we can use less meat. They’re inexpensive, filling, and so good for you. We love fat-free refried beans.
- Chop your meat: Instead of serving a big expensive steak, add a little chopped meat over your meals. Or smaller steak slices. For example, add a bit of chopped ham to a salad and baked potato meal. You can also get a huge bag of frozen stir fry veggies that includes the sauce in the freezer section of the grocery store. Cook up a batch of rice and add a little chopped chicken, shrimp, or beef for a healthy and inexpensive meal.
- Soup! A small amount of meat, whatever veggies you’ve got and some broth. We love soup. I plan on sharing some of my favorite soup recipes this fall.
- The Fun Platter. This is my husband’s specialty: he uses our fresh leftovers to make an amazing meal platter. Bits of meat, cheese, veggies, and whatever else he can find becomes a mini feast. It’s pretty inexpensive and healthy, with just a little bit of meat and a lot of veggies.
When meat is the main course, don’t get sucked into complicated recipes. Simple is healthy.
3. Use chicken
We buy boneless, skinless chicken breast in bulk when it’s on sale (less that $2/lb). I freeze it all in 1-2 lb portions.
The easiest and most delicious chicken recipe I know is to marinate it overnight in balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing and then grill it. That’s it. You won’t believe how good this tastes.
To stretch the chicken, we chop it up and use it in wraps, quesadilla, on noddles, or in anything else. If we eat it plain as a main course, we make sure to have large portions of vegetables and rice with it.
4. Fish is healthy and can be inexpensive
I know fish is so healthy, but it has always seemed too hard to make. This year has been different though. We’ve been eating a lot of fish and I’m shocked at how fast and easy it is. I can make a dinner like the one in the picture below in less than 15 minutes. Plus, it’s so good for you!
If you aren’t normally a fish eater, you’ll probably be surprised at how filling it is. I know the price per pound can seem high, but we feel fuller on small piece of fish compared to the same size piece of chicken or beef.
Frozen tilapia is what’s most cost effective to buy around here. I usually buy a big bag from Aldi or Sam’s Club. We buy frozen Salmon if we’ve got a little extra money.
Once it’s thawed, I simply cook in on the stove with a tablespoon of olive oil and some seasonings. Lately, we’ve been using a lemon pepper seasoning. While the fish is cooking, I microwave some sweet potatoes. Other side dishes we like to add are some noodles (I’m a Pasta Roni addict), or chips and salsa.
5. Limit specialized Ingredients
A lot of super healthy recipes use foods that I don’t normally buy. Some of the ingredients are very expensive, and it can quickly add up.
I’m cautious about buying all kinds of new specialty ingredients. I could blow my budget in a heartbeat buying chia seeds, goji berries, and organic flaxseed.
If I want to try some new healthy ingredients, I take them one at a time. I purchase one and try it a few different ways to get used to cooking with it and eating it.
Most of our meals center around the same group of ingredients. I know that if I try a recipe that is completely different from what we normally eat, there’s a smaller chance that we’ll like it, and we’ll have to spend extra money buying all kinds of ingredients that we don’t keep on hand. That’s a big reason why I try to add in new ingredients one at a time.
6. Meal plan to keep costs low
You know I can’t mention saving money on food and sticking to your grocery budget without talking about meal planning.
If you’re trying to eat healthier, don’t just buy a bunch of random healthy things at the store. You need foods that go together or you’ll have tons of ingredients that you can’t make anything with.
When I make my grocery list for the week, I also make a separate list of all of the meals that I’m going to make with the food I’m buying.
If you want extra meal planning help, I’ve got a free video training series that will break meal planning down into its simplest form so that it is no longer overwhelming. You’ll figure out why your grocery bill is so high and learn how to avoid the most common meal planning mistakes! Click HERE to sign up for the free meal planning videos!