It's important to know how to eat healthy on a tight budget.
Young adults leaving home might benefit from knowing how to eat healthy on a starting salary. As adults, from time to time we may want to tighten our budget a bit and cut spending in certain areas, or it might be an absolute necessity. Here is how I have continued to eat healthy when our budget was tight.
Now stick with me because it's gonna get interesting in the end! I still must start with the basics. Oatmeal and beans are two staples that can help to stretch your budget. In the past, we have really utilized oatmeal in many ways other than just eating a bowl full of it for breakfast. I really love to eat oatmeal plain, however, I have also made my own trail mix, bars, and cookies using oatmeal. Try to rediscover oats, you might be glad you did!
Beans too can make a little bit of meat go further, or they can make a great meal on their own or paired with rice, veggies or pasta. You can even use beans in place of meat on Taco Tuesday night. Don't forget to use chickpeas when you are preparing your bean meals, they are so versatile. Just try making this falafel patty recipe. Black beans are full of fiber and very nutritious and should be incorporated into meals frequently. We have even eaten a bean sandwich, that was invented by one of my favorite Aunts.
I used canned salmon a lot when my budget was tight so that I could get a good source of protein and omega 3 fats in our diet. Canned salmon can be used in sandwiches, salads, or to make salmon muffins and salmon patties. Make sure you are using Wild Caught Salmon. You can tweak this recipe to use leftover bread crust edges from the lunch boxes you are packing or the ones your picky children refuse to eat! I love this simple recipe for a Salmon Spinach Frittata.
I would suggest using tuna as well for the tight budget; unfortunately, most canned tuna has unhealthy canola oil added or a “broth” which has monosodium glutamate as one of the ingredients not required to be listed. It's best to avoid tuna unless you can get one that is simply packed in water. The ingredients list on the back should read; tuna, water, salt. It is unfortunate that most supermarkets major brands of tuna can be over 30% additives even though the front of the label says “tuna packed in water.”
Eggs can be used in so many ways that everyone should be using them tight budget or not. You can find some great recipes on the nourishing cook website. Here are some of the ways we use eggs:
- boiled (or steamed as I prefer this method actually makes it easier to peel)
- egg muffins (with meat and veggies if possible, the combinations are endless)
- omelet, here's a recipe for one with mushrooms, yum
- crustless quiche, you can add any veggies, but try this spinach and mushroom
- egg salads
- egg sandwich
- crepes to stuff with sweet or savory fillings, here's how, but I don't recommend stuffing them with Nutella like the recipe suggests! *see note at bottom of post
- homemade mayo because it is so much better in flavor and nutrition than the junk you buy in the stores.
Fermented foods are fairly inexpensive to make and are loaded with nutrients. Fermenting your own vegetables is a great way to increase the enzymatic activity in your digestive system! To see how fermented foods helps your body watch this video on Dr. Mercola's website. If you would like to read more about fermenting foods for health, check out the Weston Price Foundation suggestions. Try to add some fermented foods to stretch your tight budget and to improve your health.
Another fun food to grow at home no matter how small your yard or garden is sprouts. We really enjoy growing pea shoots and sprouting broccoli seeds. This is a great project to do with your children. Not only can you sprinkle them on salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and just about anything, they are a highly concentrated source of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals.
I cannot recommend sprouts enough to increase the nutrients in your diet. They can even be grown in the winter, giving you an extra source of nutrition when you cannot be outside gardening. Here are six great ways to grow sprouts.
Bone broth is an excellent way to get in massive amounts of nutrition without breaking the bank. Trust your grandmother, she knew best when it came to bone broth, and you can bet she didn't break the bank on her grocery budget. You can either purchase bones specifically for making broth or use your own leftover bones from other meals.
Purchase bones from the local health food store for just a couple of bucks. Add to the crockpot with a splash of vinegar and fill it to the top with water. Let this simmer for about 24-48 hours then strain it, add some Celtic Sea Salt and pour into jars or use it right away.
We like to drink broth for breakfast sometimes, but you can also start a soup with it or add it to mashed potatoes and other vegetables in place of water. Bone broth includes nutrients such as “calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur, trace minerals, and compounds like chondroitin sulfates and glucosamine, which are sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain” according to Dr. Mercola. (1) The benefits of bone broth make it a definite must on any type budget but an excellent choice for a tight budget.
Here's a great recipe for making beef bone broth by Dr. Axe and a link to his chicken broth recipe. Not only do I make bone broth, but I often enjoy Bonito Broth for a quick nutritious and highly inexpensive low-calorie lunch. Try this recipe. If you ever find shrimp on sale and you like these types of things, try making shrimp broth. It's a great starter for chowder too!
Don't forget to buy these items in bulk to stretch your tight budget and stay in the healthy zone while on a tight budget:
- brown rice
- bulk spinach
- frozen blueberries
- popcorn (for air popping snacks)
- canned pumpkin
- plain yogurt
I still do not buy everything organic even when my budget is not as tight. I try to follow EWG guidelines as much as possible. Print your own current guide by going to the EWG website or download it on your smartphone. Save money when it comes to avocados, sweet potatoes, pineapples, mangos and the other items on the “Clean Fifteen” list. Check it out and stretch your tight budget to include some organic apples which are on the Dirty Dozen list.
Why not eat nutella : Love Nutella? or 5 Reasons Nutella Should Be Banned from your Breakfast Table and Nutella is Spreadable Candy.
I hope these tips help you get started thinking about more creative ways to eat healthy on a tight budget. Future posts will include more recipes that I used while our budget was super tight that my children enjoyed and still ask for today. I frequently share recipes and tips on social media, so be sure to follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!