We are such a fast-paced society, and in the rush of our busy lifestyles we forget to take care of ourselves! Faster is better, or so we think, and we forget to think of long-term effects of some our quick and easy choices, like what we decide to eat everyday.
If you don't take the time to be healthy now, you'll take the time to be sick later! Consider it an investment in your future!
Eating healthy while on a budget can be broken down into three main parts: Planning, purchasing, and preparing. These are the 3 P's for healthy eating on a budget.
1) Set aside a time each week where you can plan out a realistic menu for yourself. The key word here is "realistic." Sometimes I fancy myself a top-notch chef who can whip out a four-course meal, but the reality is that after work I am way too tired for anything like that, so unless I have a plan of something fairly easy to make, I usually don't make it and skip to something fast and not always as healthy. To do this step, I think about what I have going on during the week and consider that in my menu planning. For example, I know that by Thursday I am usually not in the mood to cook anymore because I'm tired, so I plan to make larger batches of food earlier in the week to have as leftovers or to freeze. For information on how long to store leftovers, visit these links: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=5959 and this http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=10949
2) Write out a list of the things you will need to make all your food plans for the week come true. Look at what you have already (it may sound obvious, but sometimes we don't remember as well as we think we did; this way you won't waste money on something you already have). Organize your shopping list by category. It can be how your store is laid out and which items you will pass in chronological order, it can be listed by all produce in one column, meat in another, dairy in another, etc. Find a system that works for you! Making a list will help prevent waste of things that spoil quickly, like produce or meat.
1) STICK TO YOUR LIST! This is one of the things I struggle with most. It is easy to walk into the store and see sales and other products that you want to buy, but if you stick to your well-thought out list, you won't leave feeling bad about yourself.
2) Convenience costs more. When things come "pre-cut" or "individually wrapped," the price is usually higher. Instead of buying cheese sticks or bagged lettuce, for example, you could consider buying a block of cheese and making cheese sticks yourself or chopping up a head of lettuce and storing in a Ziploc to be ready for throughout the week.
3) Buy produce in season. When you do, it is usually going to taste better and will be cheaper.
4) Canned and frozen fruits and veggies are good and healthy substitutions! They store longer and are usually less expensive. Buy canned fruit in 100% juice and canned vegetables with reduced sodium or no sodium added labels, then rinse before you use them.
1) Wash and prepare your produce and package in containers so they are ready for the upcoming meals. Some produce doesn't do well if you prepare it too far ahead, but things like lettuce and berries are great if you wash and store them. This helps reduce waste too. How many times have you found rotten produce in your fridge that you never used because you wanted a quick snack, and that would have taken too long to prepare? Preparing the produce helps save time when you will be pressed for time later in the week.
2) Double the recipe! Making bigger batches of foods can help save you time because you are only cooking once. You can freeze the leftovers and pull it out on a day you know you will be too busy to cook.