I’ve noticed that most people want to be healthy, but many believe and experience that healthy eating has to come at a high cost. The modern mindset of eating healthy often comes in the form of elaborate dragon fruit smoothie bowls or buying an overpriced bowl of leaves with some protein from a local trendy cafe. So yes, it can be costly! However, I truly believe and know that eating healthy can also be made affordable, fun, and so delicious when we take a different perspective. The A Little Dough platform focuses largely on simple cooking or prep because this is the easiest way to make healthy eating affordable – even if you are low on time! To make your health journey easier, I’ve laid out 3 ways to make healthy eating more affordable for you. These tips are simple but effective measures that you can take today to promote your wellness without investing a lot of money or time.
1. Fill your grocery basket with affordable, minimally processed, whole food ingredients.
This is the most straightforward way to improve your health and to reduce your grocery bill. The two categories that are often the most expensive in the grocery store are the produce department and the protein selection. Here are some lower cost, yet high quality options for these categories:
More affordable fresh options: Kale, Spinach, Sweet Potato, Corn, Cabbage, Onions, Carrots, Zucchini, Celery, etc.
Frozen: Don’t forget about frozen vegetables! Frozen foods can get a bad rep because there are many ultra processed frozen foods, but there are many beneficial whole-food frozen items too, like spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, etc. that are incredibly nutrient dense, stay fresh for longer when kept frozen, and can come at a lower price point.
More affordable fresh options: Bananas, Apples, Oranges, Pears, etc. (usually depends on what’s seasonal for your area!)
Frozen: As mentioned above, buying frozen whole foods can be a huge advantage when making healthy eating affordable, especially for fruits that can be more expensive when purchased fresh, such as, berries, pineapple, peaches, mango, cherries, etc. For instance, I use frozen mango in this breakfast parfait and it is so easy and delicious.
Quality plant-based proteins are usually significantly cheaper than quality animal proteins. I eat a balance of animal and plant proteins, but I especially love plant-based proteins because their taste can be so versatile, they are often easier to cook, and they are usually lighter to digest.
I buy most of my beans in a canned form (look for no salt added and only one single ingredient – the main ingredient), but dried beans and legumes are great as well if you have the extra time, especially when it comes to lentils.
I also always have one or two types of nuts or seeds in my pantry as they are filled with nutrients (like protein) add such great flavor to many dishes, and make for the easiest snacks at home or on the go.
Some plant-based proteins to keep on your radar:
- Chickpeas (Recipe: They are the star in my Pistachio Falafel Wraps)
- Lentils (Recipe: The Ultimate Comfort Soup)
- Black beans (Recipe: They make for a great filling in my Zucchini Enchiladas)
- White Cannellini Beans (Recipe: They make for such a creamy sauce in my Creamy Cauliflower Gratin)
- Dry-roasted or Raw Nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts)
- Dry-roasted or Raw seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, etc.)
- Nut or seed butters (peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, etc.)
Some more affordable & healthy animal proteins:
- No Salt Added Canned Tuna, Salmon, Sardines, etc.
- Chicken Breast, Drumsticks, Thighs (organic is best if possible)
2. Plan ahead and limit your grocery store visits to 1-2 times a week
The grocery store can be a tempting place; there are so many foods marketed in the right way to make us want more, more, and more, even if we don’t need more! This makes it easy to spend more than we want (or need to). For this reason, it is best to plan ahead for the week or next few days to make sure you can buy what you need for those days. I often think I need to go to the store, but then I take a look into my pantry and fridge and get creative with what I have on hand up – I’ve always been able to whip up something good! Plus, this saves you time to do something fun or relaxing later on in the week – I’m a big fan of working smarter, not harder!
3. Cook in Big Batches and Freeze Single Servings
By now you’ve heard me say that cooking our own food from scratch (or at least mostly from scratch) is the most affordable and accessible way to eat healthy. Since it can be hard to cook every single day, especially for you readers who don’t necessarily love to cook (yet!), cooking freezer friendly meals in big batches and freezing in single serving sizes can be the most liberating feeling. To come home from work or a busy day knowing that you have a wholesome meal in the freezer to heat up and enjoy is so gratifying.
Some freezer friendly meals :
- Chili (Recipe Idea: One Pot Butter Chicken Chili)
- Soup (Recipe Idea: The Ultimate Comfort Soup
- Falafel (Recipe Idea: Pistachio Falafel)
Freezer friendly sweets (because a healthy dessert makes life extra sweet):
The best way to freeze single servings + to reheat:
I save most glass jars from food products I purchase at the store because these make for great single serving jars to store soups, stews, cooked vegetables, etc. and to stick in the freezer. Glass jars or containers are easiest to reheat because they are durable to heat. Either submerge the closed container halfway in a pot of water and heat up the water or heat the glass container in the microwave (without the lid) and transfer to a bowl – Enjoy!