Diet the Cheap Way

Believe it or not, it’s possible to lose weight without breaking the bank.

Membership fees, enrollment fees, meal plans, supplements, gluten-free, vegan, or organic foods—it’s no wonder diets can get so expensive.

People on a tight budget may think they can’t lose weight because it costs too much. But that’s simply not true! In fact, a healthy diet doesn’t have to be as pricey as many people think. It’s possible to lose weight on a small food budget. It may take a little creativity, some extra work in the kitchen, and a bit of self-motivation, but it can be done.

Yes, healthy food generally does cost more than highly processed junk food, but here are some tips to shop healthy the frugal way.

Shop Around

There’s no denying that shopping at the all-organic grocery store is expensive. For those who can’t afford the prices, there are plenty of other grocery options. Explore supermarkets around town and compare prices of healthy foods. How much does each store charge for a pound of apples, a head of lettuce, or a loaf of 100-percent whole-grain bread? You may sacrifice fancy deli, bakery, or pharmacy options; shiny floors; and convenience, but if you shop at the budget-friendly, discount market you’ll save money and still eat healthily.

Shop In-Season

As you walk through the produce section, fill your cart with fruits and vegetables that are on sale. Produce is usually cheaper, tastes better, and stays fresh longer during its peak harvest season. The best time to buy certain fruits and vegetables may depend on the area of the world you live. In the spring look for deals on spinach, broccoli, pineapple, avocado, and strawberries. Summer produce includes peppers, corn, tomatoes, kiwi, plums, peaches, and watermelon. Kale, sweet potatoes, grapes, pears, oranges, and potatoes are generally in season during the fall and winter.

Be Picky About Organic

Ideally, all your food would be organic to avoid potentially harmful pesticides. However, organic foods consistently cost more than their non-organic counterparts. On a tight budget that can’t afford all organic, be picky about what you spend extra on. A group of foods known as the dirty dozen should be priorities on your organic list. These dirty dozen are strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, and peppers.

Make a Meal Plan

Folks wanting to eat healthily on a budget would do well to make a meal plan. Before your grocery run, plan out the week’s meals and make a list of foods you need to purchase. Having a plan and a list prevents you from buying unnecessary, expensive items and helps you avoid making multiple trips to the grocery store when you only need one thing but come out with 10.

Having food on hand to make simple, healthy home-cooked meals keeps you from grabbing fast food at the last minute. And with the right ingredients, you can prepare a healthy meal for your family that’s even cheaper than fast food.

Things to Consider

While you may be spending a few more dollars each week on healthy food, it’s worth it in the long run. A diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy may cost you more upfront, but may help prevent expensive doctor’s visits, medical procedures, and medication costs in the future.

Also, while food and drink that are processed and filled with added sugars may be cheaper to buy, you’ll probably have to eat more to feel satisfied and energized. Whole foods, on the other hand, are more filling and nutritious so you don’t have to eat as much overall.



Allan Alguire

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