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Thank you to Bobbi Pack from MyMilitarySavings for these great ideas!

OK, let’s all be honest for a second….we all live on a budget some tighter than others.  And, face it, it’s a little easier to justify eating unhealthy foods when you’re broke.   I can remember in college I ate Ramen noodles every night…..they were cheap and handy.  Many of us think the “value menu” at fast-food restaurants will yield items with decent mouthful for an on-the-go lunch.  Here is the stone cold truth.  All of those items are rip-offs!  They provide basically no vitamins, minerals or healthy anything. 

 

You can eat healthy, on a tight budget with these tips:

 Cookbook Photo

1.  Start a cookbook swap club! Almost all cookbooks contain recipes made with specialty ingredients (which will help with your shopping list) and have real-life cooking ideas.  Learn how to “sub” which unhealthy ingredients you can substitute for more healthy ones.  Most importantly learn to cook “your way.”

 

 

2.  Learn portion sizing and buy in bulk when possible.  I am not talking about getting a membership to a club.  I am referring to food such as yogurt, cottage cheese and chicken breasts.  They are cheaper when you buy them in larger containers rather than pre-portioned packages.  Invest in a set of measuring cups and spoons ($1 each set at Dollar Store) and a Smart Spin storage system.  Always check the serving size on the nutrition information then you can portion the food at home.  Trust me when I tell you having ready to-go meals at home will help keep your overall food cost down.  It’s so simple to grab a meal in a plastic container, throw it in the microwave and go.  When you portion your snack foods in zip-lock baggies you will go a long way to making your purchases stretch between paychecks.  For example, potato-chips, don’t buy the box of pre-packaged chips.  Just do it yourself and buy the family size bag.  Once I figured out how much I was actually supposed to be putting into my mouth, it give me a better awareness of what I actually should be eating in one sitting or meal.

Portion Size Picture

 

3.  This one is a hard one for me, but I have to do it….Stop eating out!  A week’s worth of food, such as snacks, coffee, soda-pop, a bag of chips here and there, that amazing stack of pancakes you have to have every Friday morning, etc. can be prepped in 1 hour a week.   Okay, here is what you need to do in order to stop the eating out.

         

Pre Portioned Photo

  1. Grill 2 – 3 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken breast, cut them into strips for your favorite salads or wraps.
  2. Portion and prep side dishes (make sure you put them in plastic containers). 
  3. Add your favorite snacks into zip-lock baggies.
  4. Cut and prep items such as lettuce, fruit, veggies, etc.  Chop your onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, etc. to use in things like omelets orburgers.  
  5. Make some prepared meals of whatever you purchased on sale or in season.  I really like to purchase a ton of things I am in love with….bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, etc. and mix with tuna or turkey lunchmeat. This is a great way to make lunches in many different yummy, yet healthy ways. 

Now, when you get ready to go to work, baseball practice or the theme park you will be able to grab your prepared snacks and lunch items rather than spending a ton for fast-food.

 

4.  Now, I know this is also a hard one to swallow. but you are going to have to give up processed foods.  It’s not really food, it’s not healthy at all and it can get pricey.  What I mean is….no more pre-bagged salad, those little 100-calorie packs of cookies, cold cereal, small 100-calorie ice cream cups, string cheese, etc.  Just don’t buy them.  Fresh fruit, veggies, frozen meats, and buying in bulk you will save you a ton of cash and calories.  If you spend a little more time in the kitchen (this is a perfect way to make it family fun time too), your pocketbook will be heavier and you can maintain a healthy weight.

 

5.  You are going to have to stop shopping at those health/organic food stores.  You will need to start hitting the local farmer’s markets.  This is the perfect way to support your local community and I have to be honest with you, when I purchase fruit and veggies that still have dirt on them I know they are FRESH! Buy cheap when and where you can, remember the main goal is to save money.

 

6.  It’s time to set those alarm clocks 10 minutes earlier and make breakfast at home.  I love Old-fashioned oatmeal and it only takes 2 minutes in the microwave.  Add some fresh fruit and you have a cheap, but yummy, meal.  Omelets with fresh veggies and salsa are always a hit at my house and it only takes about 5 minutes to prepare and make. (Remember you will be using your already portioned items.)  Breakfast should be a part of your day…it helps to get your body working and wake up for mind.  While your breakfast is cooking….get your snacks and lunch ready.

 

7.  I am only human and I love a lot of foods that are not so great for you, I will fail on any diet plan if I can’t have chips and chocolate.  So, I compromise with a “cheat meal.”  I designate a day and meal (my cheat day is always Friday or Saturday as those are family fun nights) to sit back, put my feet up, put on a movie and enjoy my favorite food (chocolate) without feeling guilty. 

 

8.  One thing I find really helpful is a food journal.  My favorite food journal I found is SparkPeople (www.sparkpeople.com/). This site allows me to log my daily meals, find recipes for healthy food (on a budget), come up with an exercise plan that is perfect for me and my favorite part is the fact it’s FREE! It is a proven fact that people who track their food intake lose weight faster and keep it off longer.

 

The bottom line is eating healthy on a tight budget is simple if you are willing to take a few hours here and there to prepare your meals.  I know it’s easier to buy the processed and pre-packaged foods, but if you want to save a little pocket change and calories that is not the way to go.  Just remember if it was easy everyone would do it…..eating healthy on a budget takes a little time and energy, but it is worth it in the end.

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Bobbi Pack is a contributing writer for MilitaryOneClick. Bobbi has over ten years experience in marketing and broadcast as well as a BA from Ottawa University and an MSM from Baker University. Bobbi has many years experience being a military spouse and loves to share her experiences, challenges and highlights with other military spouses.

Bobbi is the proud wife of Mike, an active duty Army Soldier and mother of two amazing Army Brats and two loving four-legged Army Brats. Bobbi is currently stationed with her family in North Carolina and is loving every minute of it. You can check out more of Bobbi’s blogs and military deals and discounts at http://www.mymilitarysavings.com/.

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Bobbi Pack is a contributing writer for MilitaryOneClick.  Bobbi has over ten years experience in marketing and broadcast as well as a BA from Ottawa University and an MSM from Baker University.  Bobbi has many years experience being a military spouse and loves to share her experiences, challenges and highlights with other military spouses.

Bobbi is the proud wife of Mike, an active duty Army Soldier and mother of two amazing Army Brats and two loving four-legged Army Brats.  Bobbi is currently stationed with her family in North Carolina and is loving every minute of it.  You can check out more of Bobbi’s blogs and military deals and discounts at http://www.mymilitarysavings.com/.

– See more at: http://milspousefest.wpengine.com/tailgating-prep-pack-must-haves/#sthash.gEZeAqMQ.dpuf

 To get more recipes, click here.

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