The desire to lose weight and get in shape can be a constant struggle. Over the last three decades, the adult obesity rate has more than doubled. Turn on the television and you are likely to find any number of advertisements about the newest diet. No matter what diet people choose, there seems to be one constant complaint: dieting and eating healthy can be an expensive effort.
Many specialty diets require that you order pre-made meals and snacks. If you’re on this diet for a decent length of time, these costs can add up. Many choose to forego a popular diet and take a simpler approach. They may figure that simply watching what they eat and exercise can be enough. This may sound like a cost-effective solution, but there are some hidden costs in this method as well. You need not fret because there are ways to eat healthy while on a budget.
1. Visit a farmers’ market
The farmers’ market features local farmers with large supplies of their crops. Shopping at your local farmers’ market is a win-win: not only are you supporting local businesses, but you are also making healthier choices.
This is because the fruits and vegetables from a large company are likely loaded with unhealthy chemicals. Those chemicals are used to preserve freshness for a longer time, which is necessary for these foods to survive the long journey being shipped across the country. When you buy directly from the farmer, you cut out the middleman. With a much shorter farm to table wait time, the need for preservatives is often unnecessary or cut significantly.
Farmers’ markets are also a great option if you’re looking for savings. They offer a variety of different options and you can choose which farms have products most in line with your budget. A supermarket may not have the plethora of options to choose from.
2. Eat frequent, smaller meals
Eating more meals throughout the day in order to lose weight may seem like an oxymoron. However, it can actually be very helpful in the quest to eat healthier. By eating five small meals during the day you can establish solid portion control. Since you’ve been eating frequently during the day you wont find yourself extremely hungry at the time to eat “main meals,” like dinner. With long gaps between meals, the likelihood of overeating intensifies.
By exercising portion control, you will decrease your food budget. With smaller meals, you will be able to spread your food out and eat less. What you once purchased for one large meal can be broken down into 2-4 smaller meals. After a while, you will notice how your shopping budget decreases and you’ll be saving much more.
3. Practice good time management
Unhealthy meals are often fast and convenient. Families can easily stop by their local fast food restaurant because they lack the time to cook a large meal. Lack of convenience is often a deterrent to healthy eating.
Additionally, snacking on unhealthy foods can be equally problematic. If you’re looking for a quick snack, opening a bag of chips will save you lots of time. Healthy snacks, such as fruits and vegetables, need to first be washed and sometimes cut into bite-size pieces. If you’re in a rush, it can be easier to just grab that unhealthy, prepackaged snack.
Practicing our time management skills, helps us make better choices. Before you know it, you will have more time on your hands then you ever would’ve imagined. This will lead to less impulsive eating. With better time management, you can make smarter buying choices. You will start saving more money.
4. Enjoy home cooking
We all remember those delicious and comforting home-cooked meals. Going out for dinner can be a great experience, but there’s something special about a meal made from scratch at home. If you’re someone who goes out to eat frequently, consider scaling back and making more home-cooked meals. It will help with your healthy eating choices and you’ll be saving even more. Even the most affordable restaurants are more costly than a home-cooked meal. On average, a home cooked meal can feed a family of four for around the same price as a dinner for two at a restaurant. The savings will add up.
It is also a healthier choice. When you are cooking yourself, you know exactly what is going into your food. You can substitute and adapt to your meal. For a restaurant, that may not be feasible. While a night out is great occasionally, you might be able to cut back on its frequency.
5. Become a gardener
For those of us who have a green thumb, growing your own fruits and vegetables are a great option for saving money and getting good nutrition. The health benefits of organic fruits and vegetables are well known. As the gardener, you control the production. You need not worry about what pesticides are on it like when you shop for them. It is also affordable. Investing in seeds and planting supplies are affordable one-time costs that can provide you with months of nutritious and delicious food.
These are just some of the healthy and affordable choices you can make while eating. Smart eating can not only affect things like blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI, but it can also help combat periodontal disease, which affects over 70% of adults over age 65, even if you already brush twice per day. By following these tips, before you know it, both you and your wallet will be getting in shape.
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