Perhaps the biggest budget-busting culprit is impulse buys. You can make sure that you stay within your budget by making yourself a list of the foods you're going to buy and sticking with the list. Also, planning and making as many of your meals in advance as possible will help you spend less money and waste less food.
Because most dried beans require soaking before cooking, they tend to be underutilized in the average American kitchen. But if you want a versatile ingredient that also happens to be very cheap, it doesn't get better than dried beans. A cup of dried pinto beans is just 13 cents per cup. Dried beans like black beans and chickpeas are also great sources of fiber and low-fat protein.
Also consider including more lentils and dried split peas into your diet. Unlike most dried beans, they don't require soaking, but they are still inexpensive and nutritious.
Even though they are an essential part of a healthy diet, vegetables can quickly eat away at a budget. Replacing some of your fresh vegetables with less expensive frozen vegetables can save you money. And don't worry about the healthfulness of frozen vegetables. They contain as much, if not more, of the same vitamins and minerals found in their fresh counterparts.
Over the years, eggs have gotten almost as bad of a reputation as Courtney Love, but unlike Courtney Love, the bad reputation that eggs have is undeserved. A new study by the government found that eggs are lower in cholesterol than previously believed. Besides, heart disease is mostly associated with diets high in trans and saturated fats (eggs are low in saturated fat) and not high cholesterol.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, nutrient-dense, and relatively low in calories. Best of all, they are inexpensive so they should definitely be added to the diets of the budget conscious.
If you want to save money on things like oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and whole-wheat pasta, buy the generic brands instead of name-brand products. Most of the time there is little difference in taste between generic food and their name-brand counterparts, but there is a difference in price, so start buying generic items with pride.
I won't lie, precut carrots and melons are time-savers, but they are also more expensive than their whole counterparts. Spending a few extra minutes cutting your fruits and vegetables will save you a lot of money in the long run. Besides, precut fruits and vegetables tend to lose nutrients faster than uncut fruits and vegetables. Cut produce also loses a lot of flavor, so stay away from things like garlic that's already been minced and precut salad greens.
Even though eating meat can be part of a healthy diet, it can be expensive. In the last few months, pork and chicken prices have risen and they don’t look like they’re going to go down anytime soon. In light of these price hikes, eating less meat is a great way to save money. For less expensive protein sources, eat more beans, eggs, and tempeh.
If the prospect of eating less meat fills you with more dread than watching network TV’s fall lineup, then you should consider eating less expensive cuts of meat. Instead of chicken breast, which is now about $3.33 per pound, buy chicken thighs instead. 100 grams of skinless chicken thighs has only five more calories than skinless chicken breast and has more nutrients. Also try less expensive cuts of beef like skirt steak and flank steak.
Another trick to eating healthy on a budget is buy food that makes you feel full longer, so you eat less and save more money. Dried beans, lentils, and split peas are just a few examples of foods that satiate your hunger for longer periods of time. Other examples include sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes and brown rice instead of white rice. The less you eat the more money you save.
Sometimes buying items like meat, beans, and pasta in bulk can save you money. Meat and cooked beans can be frozen and pasta can be stored indefinitely as long as it's kept in a cool, dry place, so consider purchasing certain items at places like Costco. Just make sure that you do a price comparison between bulk items and regular-sized items because bigger doesnt always mean cheaper.