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Published on June 15, 2018

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

It seems that healthy food far out prices the cheaper, faster, but much more health-destroying option. It can be really tempting to throw in the proverbial fork and think, ‘yes the drive thru is totally the easiest, cheapest and therefore best option’. But I beg to differ in that opinion.

Eating healthy on a budget is important because being your best self needn’t be the only thing you spend your money on. Gone are the days where eating healthy means that you can’t have a social life or travel. Now you can have it all; eating healthy and have spare money in order to enjoy the best things in your life.

In this article I’m going to show you how you can eat healthy on a budget so you can enjoy your body, energy and results of eating healthy whilst also having the funds to do all the other things you want like traveling and hanging with your friends.

Why eating healthy is important

Eating healthy is defined here as eating a balanced diet profile containing all three macronutrients and all the micronutrients. It has many benefits:

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  • Protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer, allows your body to grow and repair and provides essential building blocks for hormones, neurotransmitters, enzyme and antibodies. By consuming adequate protein, your body with be satiated longer–therefore, needing to snack less frequently.[1]
  • Fat helps to support metabolism, cell signaling, the health of various body tissues, immunity, hormone production and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. And by doing so eliminates cravings for fast, unhealthy foods that add up to a small fortune over the month.[2]
  • Carbohydrates help you get more lean, improve performance and/or lose weight.[3]They are a preliminary source of energy within the body – when they are broken down, they travel to the liver to replenish energy stores after which they enter the bloodstream and other cells of the body to allow for movement and concentration. Often consumed as vegetables, they can be cheap and high volume for their calories; therefore stimulating satiety quicker than their smaller, more calorific fast food options.
  • The macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) are the building blocks of your body. The micronutrients (driven from vegetables and a balanced, varied diet) are the cement holding the building together.[4]

If you’re anything like me and want to feel amazing on the inside, look great on the outside and be able to perform at your top capacity whilst remaining pain-free, eating healthy is essential.

If you want all of that and to still be able to enjoy your life, rather than simply living out of Tupperware for the foreseeable future, then doing so on a budget is the utmost tier of goal.

How to start eating healthy on a budget

Firstly, it’s important to make eating healthy on a budget a priority. I see so many people ‘fail’ when it comes to just eating healthy that adding another ‘string to that bow’ can over complicate into inaction. As I would say for anyone looking to make positive change, begin with a solid ‘why’. As Tony Robbins says,

“Find your why, find your way.”

In order to begin really committing to eating healthy on a budget, ask yourself why it’s important to you, how it will affect your life and what the benefits will be.

Once you’ve gained that clarity, I suggest looking at the points I’ve listed below and pick one or two to start with.

Eat Healthy without costing much

Figuratively and metaphorically food doesn’t have to cost a lot and doesn’t have to cost the health of the planet. Often the price of food is hiked up because of the great lengths that have gone to obtain it (think planes, agriculture, GMO, engineering, water consumption, transport, etc).

The great thing about the hacks I’m going to give you is that they won’t only help you to eat on a budget, but they’ll also have a positive impact upon Earth.

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Eating Healthy from your kitchen

This is my favorite place to start; as often when one is attempting to cut back on food spending, the first thing that goes is the ‘eating out’ part. When in actual fact we can make a big difference from our homes first.

By making these simple and easy choices first, you will see big impacts upon your spending at the weekly check out. Those extra pennies can be stored away for more outings with friends, travel or simply saving for your future.

Here are the ‘at-home-hacks’:

  • Eat slowly. Unless you’re a body builder aiming to gain weight, eating slowly will help you manage and maintain weight because you naturally eat slightly less. By taking upwards of 20 minutes to consume each meal will allow your body to notice when it is satiated rather than over-eating your budget.
  • Invest in a good foraging book or join a free foraging community group on Facebook. Foraging books such as Wild Food: A Complete Guide for Foragers is my favorite. And forage away – I often will pick up bits and bobs (especially wild garlic in Spring) on my morning walks with my pooch to include into breakfast.
  • Make friends with your local farm shop, farmer or green grocer. The more you can connect with real people who have their hands in the ground, the more likely they will let you have the best, most fresh and abundant food available locally (i.e. anything that is over produced will be cheaper and if it’s local, there won’t be an included transportation costs). You can even pickle and preserve over-abundant food to store for later in the year when it is no longer in season.
  • Use up everything in your fridge before buying new produce. Save waste, consume everything you’ve bought – just keep an eye out for moldy stuff because you don’t want to get ill.
  • Go for walks and pick food from free plants because it’s nutritious and free. Just don’t pick the hallucinogenic type!

Eating healthy from a working kitchen

I won’t lie to you – I blooming love a good brunch. I actually feel that without an occasional brunch, I’m missing out on life. I love the act of going somewhere new, meeting friends and hanging out in cool spaces. So when it comes to eating healthy on a budget, this is one thing that I really struggle and don’t want to let go of. So I’m going to share with you now my mini-strategies I use when I go out to eat.

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Mini-eating-out-strategies:

  • Grab a light snack before you head out so that you’re not in a state of hanger and ordering a 3-course meal without realizing it until the bill smacks you in the face.
  • Go with friends and order together a few sides with the strategy to try to taste as many things as possible on the menu whilst spreading the price load between you.
  • Order a starter not a main. It’ll probably be big enough if you use that eating slowly tip I mentioned earlier.
  • Opt for tap water rather than expensive cocktails and lattes which quickly add up on your bill.

Make it work for you

Eating healthy on a budget is really about finding what works for you and keeping it simple. Try the above tips around food that you love – eat varied food that is available in abundance, use up all your left overs to make crazy tasty concoctions that’ll become signature dishes and enjoy your food with friends.

This is really what we all want with our food, at a basic level – to connect and enjoy. Just go do that as much as possible and you’re literally going to be doing all the things you need to do in order to eat healthy on a budget.

The Great Wall of China was not built in a day, and neither will your eating healthy on a budget habits. Conquer them one at a time, starting with the easiest. All the pennies add up!

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For more inspiration on budget and healthy recipes, check out this article: 40 Healthy And Really Delicious Meals You Can Make Under $5

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

[1]NL Perform: A Bit about Protein
[2]NL Perform: Fat and Health
[3]NL Perform: Carbohydrates for Weight Loss
[4]NL Perform: Going Deep – Nutrition – Part 3

More by this author

Camilla Dempster

I teach women to ditch the binge/restrict/guilt cycle around their body, food and exercise.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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