Ever hear that age old compliant, “Oh I want to eat healthy but it’s just so expensive!” I’m sure you have. Generally, people would like to eat healthy, but something always gets in the way. It can be a number of things, busy schedule, lack of knowledge on what to eat, and what may be the most common is not affordable. Don’t think that you’re the only one with this problem either. Most people in society run busy lives, but on a college campus whether you are an athlete, faculty/staff member, student, or a combination of those, you are usually trying to find time to eat or eating on the go. Below you will find tips, tricks, and creative ideas to eat healthy with that busy schedule, all on a budget!
One of the most important steps in this process is knowing what you should be eating. Now, we are all individuals and our bodies ask different things of us. Whether you have a food allergy that you have a hard time eating healthy with, or your body is just lacking certain vitamins and minerals such as iron or calcium, it is important to meet with your physician during your annual physical and ask if there are any particular aspects of your diet you should focus on. Another good place to start is MyPlate found at https://www.choosemyplate.gov/. This website gives you a good example of the right portions that should be taken in, as well as tips to get you started. It also gives you steps to live out that healthy lifestyle with exercising as well. The right preparation before grocery shopping is important to find out what, and how much your body needs so you over spend on your shopping trip.
Establishing a solid menu for the upcoming week is also important to make sure this all goes smoothly. Yes, I’m talking about meal prepping; that crazy thing you’ve heard for those weird workout junkies, but it is definitely a money saver. Imagine this scenario; coming home from a long day and the last thing you want to do is cook. But oh, wait a minute! You’ve planned your meals out and they’re ready to go, so just pop them in the microwave or on the stovetop and you’ve done it! A healthy meal that didn’t take you much time at all, and kept you from stopping at your closest fast food restaurant which cost you money to eat unhealthy. Therefore, you’ve just learned that planning those meals in advance saves you time, money, and helps you to eat healthier! Don’t know where to start with planning those meals? Well again, look at what your body needs and go from there. There are plenty of websites that offer recipes and allow for searching by keywords or topics (i.e. “quick, inexpensive dinners” or “Paleo dinners”). For example, if I know I want to make sure I get my protein in for the week but I am tired of eating chicken, I will scroll through and find healthy alternatives that meet my needs, such as black beans, eggs, or tofu. Each one of these new ideas bring forth a large following of cost saving, healthy meals.
Now we’re off to grocery shopping. Smart grocery shopping entails a little bit of planning, but once you master it all your future shopping trips will be smooth sailing. First step, bring a list of those items you need for the meals you’ve planned out. Next, shop on the outer rim of the store because that is where all the healthy items are located! Staying on that outer rim will help you to stay away from those tempting foods that you don’t need to buy. As you shop on the outer rim of the store, remember to only buy what is on your list in a quantity that you can eat, so things like produce won’t go bad. While picking out those items it is also cheaper to buy the off brand or store version as most are made in the same manufacturing plant anyway.
So you’ve planned your meals, went shopping, and now you’re home and ready to go. The first step is to freeze what you may not be eating right away, or foods that will just be added to recipes like smoothies. Not having to throw away food just because it went bad will save you money. Next, find a day to do your meal prepping. You can either make it so your meals are completely cooked so you can take them to work, eat at home when you are on a time crunch, or you can prepare them most of the way and finish them off on the stove top or in the oven when you’re ready to eat. It’s okay if you’re a little exhausted from grocery shopping to cook right away, so try to find a day that works in your schedule. That way healthy cooking will become more of a hobby than a chore.
Finally, keep track of how the week went so you can find more ways to save money maybe on stuff you didn’t eat. Sometimes when you feel ambitious and decide to try new things, they may not turn out as expected and thus, food goes to waste. Better to make note of that than make the same mistake twice! Also, keeping track of what you eat is a great way to see how much food you’re actually taking in, making you more educated about your overall diet and making it easier to meet your nutrition goals in the future.
Feel free to share this article with a friend, or better yet, maybe you can find a healthy meal to share with a friend. No matter what, know that eating healthy can be done, and it doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket if you do it right.
Websites for Ideas on Healthy Meals