Living on a low income can force you to make tough sacrifices, but proper nutrition shouldn’t be one of them. Poor nutrition can damage your health, leading to a lower quality of life and higher medical bills in the future. Simply put, eating well, even when cash is tight, is financially smarter in the long term. Here are a few tips to eat a nutritionally sound diet while navigating a rough financial patch.
1) Shop at ethnic markets.
One great thing about ethnic markets is that fresh vegetable prices tend to be priced lower than at conventional supermarkets. Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. If your regular supermarket has priced you out of the produce section, look into shopping in an immigrant neighborhood.
2) Buy in bulk.
If you can manage the higher up-front cost, buy rice in 10 lb sacks rather than 1 lb plastic bags. Rice is one of the best budget foods available. Nutritionally rich and filling, rice provides an excellent meal base. For better nutrition, buy brown rice instead of white rice. Brown rice costs a little bit more, but is nutritionally smarter due to a higher fiber and protein content.
3) Buy membership at a warehouse club, such as Costco.
For kitchen basics with a long shelf life, warehouse stores simply cannot be beat. The membership typically costs money, but if you shop exclusively for household basics at the warehouse, this up-front cost pays for itself very quickly in savings.
4) Buy less meat.
Meat is more expensive, and eating it too often can lead to health problems. Kill two birds with one stone and limit meat meals to a few times per week. This will help stretch your food budget a little further. Use the money you save to buy more fresh produce. Buy meat in bulk when it’s on sale and stock up your freezer. Thaw sparingly as needed.
5) Don’t buy soft drinks or juices.
Simply put, your body doesn’t need sugary drinks, so why spend the money? Drink water or tea instead. While fruit juice does contain nutrients, you can get more nutrients for your money by purchasing fresh apples and oranges. Juices contain large quantities of sugar and can cause weight gain. Forgoing fruit juices and soda is both cheaper and healthier.
6) Do your homework on storing vegetables for a longer shelf life.
Throwing away rotten vegetables is tantamount to flushing money down the toilet. While onions and potatoes taste excellent together, they should be stored in different locations to avoid rotting. Parsley and other leafy greens are best stored completely dry in a perforated plastic bag. Knowing how to store fresh produce properly will help you get the most out of hard-earned vegetables.
Eating Well Is Priceless
You may be broke, but if you’re not a college student, you officially have no excuse to subsist on instant ramen noodles. Using these tactics can help you spread your grocery budget further and keep your health intact for times when your bank balance is more robust.