How to Eat Healthily on a Budget: 3 Money-Saving Staples

January 17, 2020

Every new year, we think of ways to reoptimize our lives, work towards becoming a better person, and generally, making better decisions than we did in the year prior. The new year offers a mini-renaissance wherein we get to start over and improve on ourselves by making these choices. Much of the planning to make these choices begins with assessing where your money is going. And, if you’re spending like the average American, your food budget could be somewhere in the ballpark of $151 per week.

Luckily, our money spending habits can be quelled with strategic grocery shopping and meal planning. Keeping a few staples in your fridge and pantry can help make the difference in your health and budget. Of course, consult your physician and/or dietitian to ensure your food and nutrition plan is tailored to your specific health needs. Here are a few staples that can help save you a little money and are generally healthy choices!

1. Dried beans

Already an inexpensive food, beans offer great variety and a protein-rich option if you’re hoping to consume less meat. On average, dried beans cost less per serving than their canned counterparts. Even more, cooking beans from their dry form allows you to customize the flavoring as you prepare them—this means you have the option to cut salt, excess sugars, or use more creative spices if you so choose.

On top of this, beans complement and play a starring role in numerous dishes including:

  • Soup (Black bean, minestrone, split pea, lentil, & Tuscan)
  • Burgers (Spicy chickpea, chile black bean)
  • Bean enchiladas
  • Tacos
  • Dip

2. Whole Grains

Whole grains are a large category that includes “three key parts of a seed: the bran, germ, and endosperm.” This category of food includes great options for vital nutrients like B vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. WebMD suggests that including whole grains may play a role in reducing your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer. On top of all this, some whole grains provide gluten free options, too.

Some cost-effective whole grains you’ll want to consider adding to your pantry include:

  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Corn

The best part about many whole grains is their seasonal varieties and how interchangeable they are in each recipe. Let’s say you’re making a rice bowl but want to switch things up—replace your white rice for brown rice (or quinoa if you’re feeling daring). Nowadays, too, many of these grains are replacing traditional ingredients in pasta. So, if you’re gluten-free, keep your eyes open for new and improved options for gluten-free, whole grain pasta.

On top of the variety, whole grains can be made in advance and/or frozen for later consumption. A customizable crowd favorite that you can make the night before a busy day is overnight oats. With overnight oats, there’s no cooking necessary and this is a great way to use up fruit, seeds, nuts, butters, and jams sitting in your fridge, pantry, or on your countertop.

3. Condiments

Condiments aren’t just good for adding on your burger or as a dipping sauce for your fries. What’s great about condiments is that this likely isn’t something you need to go out and add to your pantry. In fact, chances are you have condiments already sitting in your fridge, begging to be used up. Save your money and put them to good use!

In their article, 10 Ways to Use Up Condiments, Kitchn lists marinades, salad dressings, and sandwiches as some clever ways to make the most out of the money you’ve already spent on those sauces sitting on your fridge’s door. Many sauces pack extra ingredients into their recipes that you may be hoping to avoid. By using condiments you’ve purchased and adding to them, you have more control over what goes in your food and body.

Whether you decide to add staples to your pantry or use what you already have, your options for saving money and eating healthily on a budget are plentiful. This new year is your new year and you decide how best to spend your money!

Start your financial year off on the right foot by calculating your net worth!

Knowing how much you’re worth can help you reassess your goals and the steps you need to take in order to reach them. Check out our tips on how to calculate your net worth!

Interested in Illinois Lending? We’re interested in you, too! Illinois Lending provides the money you need to deal with what life is handing your way. Apply for an online loan, today!

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