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Money Matters Blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Staying Healthy When You're Broke and Hungry

News flash: If you're still buying unhealthy pizzas and burgers instead of salmon and veggies because you think it's too expensive, you're wrong. In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health estimates that it only costs $1.50 more per day to eat what's considered to be the "healthiest" diet -- one rich in fruits, vegetables and lean proteins -- than it costs to eat the "unhealthiest" one.

And now that your financial excuses are gone, here are 3 easy tips to make your diet a little healthier without shelling out extra cash.

1. Don't Pay for Convenience 
While premade foods like hamburger patties, shaved parmesan cheese and fruit salads can be a life-saver when you agreed to bring a dish to a party but got too caught up with class/work/life to actually make something, they have no business being in your healthy, cost-effective kitchen.

 For example, it takes five minutes to wash and chop a $2 head of romaine lettuce that can make a week's worth of salads. Prepackaged salads will easily cost double that.

 An easy way to combine convenience and health without the extra cost is to start meal prepping. Spend a few hours on a Sunday chopping your fruits, vegetables and cooking meats so that you won't be tempted to pay for that $6.99-per-pound salad bar in the middle of the week. Need inspiration? Check out some of these tips to get started.

 2. The Freezer is Your Friend 
Decent-quality meat is expensive. Like, really expensive. But it can often be the easiest way to incorporate healthy proteins into your diet (hello, crock pot meals). Learn when your grocery store runs its weekly sales and buy meat in bulk.

 This rule doesn't just go for meat. Consider buying fruit in bulk and keeping the extras in the freezer to use at a later date.

 Wondering how long something will keep in the freezer? Save this infographic from Huffington Post so you never have to wonder -- or waste food -- again.

 3. Buy in Bulk But be Smart About It 
So when you buy food in bulk, it's important to only buy things that you know you’ll use, or that have a long shelf life. Look for places that sell loose, unbranded options for kitchen staples, like a bulk-food store. Some good things to stock up on are steel-cut oats, nuts, dried fruits, meats and spices. 

Still looking for some healthy meal planning inspiration? The U.S. Department of Agriculture also has great tips for healthy eating on a budget. With a little extra planning you too can eat better and save money at the same time!

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