Does eating healthy and saving money sound like an oxymoron to you? How is it possible to eat healthy and save money when you can get a whole meal at McDonalds for 99 cents? Well, rest assured it is possible. It takes some effort but it’s doable and, just like exercise, your body will thank you.
Think of eating well like investing in your 401k: every little bit counts. It’s the daily investment that makes a difference rather than eating healthy just one day a week. How can eating healthy be done when life is so demanding? As a wife, mom, and someone who is in the workforce, I feel the busyness of life too. Through a bit of trial and error though, we've almost cracked the code to healthy eating. And there are three things that have helped steer us in the right direction to consistently eating healthy on a budget: meal planning, using everything we have, and sticking to our grocery lists. When we use the tips above, we see a difference in our ability to eat healthy and live within our means. Both feel pretty great!
When I say the words meal planning, what thoughts come to mind? Do you cringe? Or do you feel a sense of relief? I have been meal planning for years and most of the time, I enjoy it. What I love most about it is my weeknights are filled with less stress and anxiety because I don’t have to figure out what to make at the last minute. Meal planning came as a necessity for me when I was working full time with an infant at home. I didn’t have time to wing it. This habit has remained over the years; on Sundays I spend 20-30 minutes looking through our refrigerator and cupboards to see what we have. From there, I write down what I’ll make on a dry erase board that hangs on our refrigerator. I list out the days of the week and write down what I plan to make each day. Meal descriptions are not complicated. For example, Monday might look like this: Turkey Spaghetti with veggies + salad. Sometimes I will pull out a couple cookbooks to get inspiration or make something that is out of my routine. While I am meal planning, I have a grocery list out as well. If I notice we don’t have something, I will add it to my grocery list for the week.
Why does meal planning keep you healthy? At the end of the day we are all tired and hungry, which is a recipe for bad choices. Meal planning allows you to just do. There are many meal planning apps out there,and if you prefer pen and paper, there are lots of printable meal planning guides online as well. What’s most important is that you find a system that you can do consistently whether you are using a dry erase board or pen and paper. Meal planning will help you stay healthy or lose weight and save money! I hope you give it a try.
If you want to save money, try to use everything that you have before buying more food. We’ve been implementing this routine the last few months and it's helped us decrease food waste dramatically. A book I love that gives a lot of insight as to how to make the most of all your food is an Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler she will teach you how to cook with economy and grace. Every meal doesn’t have to be gourmet to be nourishing and satisfying. Some nights I will make a meal and plan to use some of the leftovers from another meal that week. This helps you save money because you end up wasting less food.
Are you a shop and grab type of person, or do you make a list and add a few items here and there that look good? Perhaps making a list and sticking to it sounds rigid to you. But if you think about it, when you don’t stick to your list you could end up spending $20-30 more each time you shop. If this happens four times a month, you could be spending $80-120 more per month. That would be $960-1440 per year. Every purchase adds up. On rare occasions you’re bound to go off your list; however, whenever possible, try to stick with your list and get creative with what you have. The New York Times Cooking website is awesome if you have ingredients in your house that you don’t know what to do with, you just type that ingredient into the "what you would like to cook" box on the website. Right now I have a lot of fresh ginger, so I typed that in and a bunch of recipes came up. They even label the recipe as easy or healthy. This is probably one of my favorite resources as it helps me get out of my food ruts and use what we have.
Last but not least, change takes time, so if saving money and eating healthy is a priority for you, talk with your Wellview Health Advisor as to how you can accomplish your goals. Break your goals down step by step and allow for some wiggle room. If you have additional questions about budgeting and finance we have Financial Coaches as well. We’re here to help!
Click HERE to learn more about the Wellview services available to you. We can’t wait to work with you!
JoAnn Gruener RD, CDE
Health Advisor | Email JoAnn