Eating healthy on on less is completely possible if you are creative and think outside the box. Years ago, when I received food stamps I ate junk food more than healthy food, since it was cheaper. Then one day, I decided that we all needed to eat better while staying within the small food stamp budget.
At first it was challenging till I opened my mind and found new ways to make this happen. Then it became second nature. By doing so, when we got off food stamps, we were actually able to eat healthy with a smaller budget than what food stamps gives you. My experience enabled me to feed my family of 7 on $400-$550/mo, which is the lowest I can get our food budget right now. I try hard to stick to $400 but sometimes it isn’t possible. Still this is a lot lower than the average food allotment which would be around $810.32, close to double what I spend. @ Average Monthly Food Stamps Per Person Per State.
Do want to start eating healthier on less but don’t know where to begin? Below I included 11 tips to get you started, just be warned I didn’t include gardening or a few other ideas since I felt we all know about this, why repeat with the same information that’s already in abundance.
1. Call around to CSA & Food Co-ops
Determine the furthest you’ll drive for a csa and stay calling csa within your driving range. Ask them about free shares they offer. I was able to get a free family size csa for 2 yrs by delivering other people’s shares that couldn’t go out to the farm. They are two co-op stores within an hr of me that offers free memberships to people who can’t afford the membership fees. Call & find out the guidelines for this.
2. Retrain your brain
This biggest problem I had was the way I view food. I taught myself about proper nutrition and what our body needs. Then I found ways to incorporate this into our diets. For example, before my breakfast would be heavy on the carbs and low with healthy fats and proteins. Now, it’s the opposite. The biggest part of my breakfast is proteins & healthy fats, with green veggies. Proper education is your best asset.
3. Know your healthy frugal foods
There are certain foods that are healthier which are affordable most of the time. For my area some of them are: beans, eggs, oats, bananas, plantains, yucca, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc.
4. Think outside the box
Don’t be so rigid, use your creative juices. Back when I started changing our diets, I didn’t have the most useful tool that most of us have access to……the Internet. Go on and search around or check out Pinterest for some ideas to get you started. Once you start, you’ll be surprised at how fast ideas start popping into your head.
5. Look around for free veggie plant
Where I live I stumbled upon a farm to that was giving people free plants they couldn’t use to anyone who could use them. I pretty much put my garden together for free. If you can’t find this deal check craigslist, put up an ad saying what your looking for, or check a gleaning website. Some websites especially out west or down south will have people put up fruits from trees for people to come pick for free. Unfortunately, where I live there isn’t any website. So, it’s by word of mouth.
6. Laziness will prohibit your frugalness
Sadly, this has happened numerous times to me because I go in phases that I don’t want to make something from scratch because it takes too long. And that’s why I’ve put together about 50+ recipes that include no more than 5 ingredients that take only minutes to make. on’t let your laziness get the better of you. Set aside some time one day a week or a month & set a timer. Work on whatever you plan on making till the timer rings. Then pack it up and call it a day. Or you can do what I do and I incorporate baking into my older kids chores. Once or twice a week, a few kids will have to make snacks for the house, using whatever we have on hand. Not only am I helping learn to bake but I’m making them responsible for their own snacks. Plus, when they make it, they don’t rip through them as fast as when I make them.
7. Have a few frugal go to meals
There are a few frugal meals that I use when we don’t have a lot of money in our budget. A few of them are: Zoodle Chopped Suey,
8. Change Your Snack Mindset
For me the most money spent use to be snacks. Now, we think of snacks different, which helps save us money. For example: my oldest boy who is 16 eats so much food. It’s crazy how much he can really put away. Because of this we were running into problems till changed our snacks around. When the kids & I aren’t making them from scratch, we make PB sandwiches & freeze them as a grab n go, or we use oatmeal since it’s cheap and filling, or make cheese tortilla roll ups & freeze as another grab n go. Think of what you can use as snacks instead of the expensive premade snack foods in our stores.
9. Attend Community Dinners Or Host Your Own
This is a great way to enjoy a delicious free meal with your family and community. But there are some of us, like me for example, who don’t like to be around so many people. So instead, host a community dinner at your house inviting as many friends and family as you desire. Make it a potluck, so not one person is paying for it all. You can do a themed dinner or not. Make this as creative and fun as desired.
10. Learn creative ways to incorporate healthy foods
This has been a great help for me to lose weight and keep with our food budget. I have tried numerous ways to eat cheap healthy foods such as using avocados as a condiment for egg salad, spread on toast, mixed in a salad, or used in our desserts. You can use an avocado for all your meals & snacks if you are creative. Another food that works well are beans. I use beans for all meals and use it in snacks like cupcake filling or in brownies or in a dessert Spanish dish I love making.
11. Find some frugal ethnic foods and recreate them
I’ve look around to poverty stricken countries and have recreated their meals for pennies. Not only does this help supplements our meals and saves us money but it’s almost always healthy, using fresh ingredients. I have about 20 or so that I’ve used for different seasons. If you look at my older posts, I go into more detail about this.
12. Join a local farm to table group
My kids and I attend a local farm to table group that offers a lot. Not only do my children get to cook with farm fresh foods, but during the summer we go berry picking, in the fall go apple picking, visit numerous local farms that offer different things like an Alpaca farm, a pig farm, an organic veggie farm etc. And 9 times out of 10 we get to bring home fresh veggies, fruits, and/or plants for our visits. Plus, we gain knowledge of how to cook certains foods we didn’t know how to before.
Now, that I’ve got you started, are there any tips or ideas you can add to my list that would help us all eat healthy on less?