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Day 11 [Nutrition] SG NY Kickstart Challenge – Eating Healthily on a Budget


Welcome to day 11!

Today I want to give you some tips on how you can eat healthily on a budget as this is one of the most common problems that I hear about from people in the Sleekgeek community.

But before I do that, something that I want to point out is that in a way, unhealthy food is the most expensive food you could buy, regardless of the price.

As confusing as this may sound, it’s true. When you buy unhealthy food (even if the price is cheap), not only are you NOT contributing to good health, but you are in fact sabotaging your health. The real cost of eating healthily versus eating unhealthily will catch up to you in the end with medical bills, dentist visits, chronic medications, decreased productivity, and in your inability to enjoy life to the fullest. I’m not saying that you should never enjoy your favourite treat again, I’m simply saying that it should be a calculated choice where you acknowledge that it’s not the most frugal one to make.

To add to this, as a healthy person you are much less likely to act on unnecessary, impulse buys. Think about it, how many people end up going to the shops and completing their shopping, only to make it through the checkout slash sweeties isle with an additional bunch of unhealthy goodies that they had absolutely no intention of buying in the first place? That is a major money trap.

Finally, my experience as someone who used to be very overweight is that I eat a LOT less food now than I did back then. My portion sizes have shrunk dramatically and I no longer snack mindlessly all day and all night.

When I go out to eat, I usually order a glass of water and a Coke Zero or Coffee as opposed to 2-3 beers, and I pretty much never order dessert anymore whereas it used to be an absolute guarantee that I would. That alone is a LOT of savings.

So taking all of that into account, I am so tempted to disagree whenever someone tells me that eating healthily is expensive, because I see the long-term benefit and how health is in fact one of the best investments that you can make.

But, I do understand that budgets are tight and money needs to be saved NOW rather than in 5 years time. So, below are some of my top tips for you:

Tip #1: Skip the premium produce if you can’t afford it.

Look, eating quality food like organic, grass-fed, free-range, etc, is great, but… the most important part of eating healthy food instead of junk food is actually eating healthy food.

Worry about the finer details later. Get the basics down first. Too many people start off with buying the most expensive food possible, find it unsustainable, and then go back to eating unhealthy food again. That doesn’t help you! But eating veggies or eggs instead of cupcakes does, even if they aren’t organic or free-range.

Tip #2: Buy in bulk and look out for sales.

This may be really obvious, but not nearly enough people do this. Figure out what your staple foods are that you eat the most often and then decide how frequently you need to stock up on them.

Some foods need to be bought frequently because they expire or rot, others only need to be bought every 1-3 weeks, and others still you can get away with buying in bulk once a month or less. If you are smart and stay informed, you can time your bulk buys with sales and discounts.

Tip #3: Cook in bulk.

Cooking meals in bulk and then freezing them for later is a great way to save both time and money. At the very least you should be trying to make enough at dinner time to carry over as left-overs for breakfast or lunch the following day.

Tip #4: Work with close-to-source ingredients.

The food refinement process doesn’t only create less healthy foods, it also generally creates more expensive ones. My recommendation is to buy ingredients, not products. If you are willing to buy single-ingredient foods and put in the time and effort to produce a meal of your own out of them, then you will dramatically save on costs.

Tip #5: Learn to cook.

Learning to cook is perhaps one of the most valuable skills you will ever learn when it comes to supporting your healthy lifestyle as well as your budget. Convenience and pre-packaged or pre-made meals come at a huge premium and you will be able to cook up homemade meals from scratch for only a fraction of their retail price.

This doesn’t need to be complicated, it can just be cooking up some mince or homemade burger patties, steaming or boiling vegetables, making hard boiled eggs, grilling chicken and making soups. There are some great YouTube videos and free online cooking courses to teach you the basics and fill in any missing blocks of knowledge. Plus, you can always ask for help in the Sleekgeek Facebook Group.

Tip #6: Eat out less, and eat less when you eat out.

Eating out is usually quite expensive, especially if opting for healthier and more nutrient-dense dishes, so naturally eating out less is an easy way to cut costs. However, this is often a huge aspect of our social lives and sometimes eating out less is simply not possible.

In this case, consider eating less when you eat out, such as opting for smaller meals or asking to take-away some of your meal to eat the next day. If you find this difficult, an effective strategy is to eat something before heading out to eat – I guarantee you won’t be quite as hungry for your meal after eating 3 large carrots beforehand.

Tip #7: Eat more vegetables.

Quite simply, eating more vegetables is a foolproof way to make your meals more filling and satisfying while eating and spending less.

Tip #8: Plan ahead.

If you aren’t planning ahead and preparing for your next few meals, then you drastically increase the chance or being caught unprepared where you resort to either buying something quick and healthy but very expensive, or something unhealthy.

However, if you are well-prepared, you will always have healthy and affordable meals available. Proper planning (and then sticking to that plan) also helps prevent wastage — there is no bigger waste than needing to throw away rotten fruit and vegetables, or meat that has gone off.

Tip #9: Tinned and frozen foods.

Contrary to popular belief, tinned or frozen foods aren’t inferior to fresh foods. In some cases they can even contain more nutrients due to being picked while at their ripest and not losing any nutrition during transport or storage. Therefore, incorporating tinned and frozen foods into your plan is a great strategy to help you save money as they tend to be cheaper and are less likely to spoil or go to waste.

Tip #10: Buy local, in-season foods.

You would be surprised at how many fruit, veg and even meat in our shops is imported from overseas at a premium. If you are a lover of avocados, you will be very familiar with how much the prices fluctuate during the season and out of season (consider buying in-season avocados in bulk and preserving them in your freezer for cheap guacamole year all year long).

This is where venturing out to some of the local farms or farmers markets comes in handy as you will find an abundance of cheap, in-season produce.

Tip #11: Grow your own food.

And of course, nothing cuts costs like putting in a little bit of time and work to grow your own food. According to LifeHacker, The 7 Easiest Vegetables to Grow for Beginner Gardeners are lettuce and other salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, green beans and zucchini.

Cool, that’s all I’ve got for you for now!

Please, guys, don’t use your finances as an excuse to be unhealthy because, in the end, your health is the real wealth.

So for today, all I want you to do is identify and implement at least 1 of these strategies to make eating healthily more easy on your budget.

See you tomorrow! Cheers