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I’ve spent some time over the past few weeks compiling tips from a handful of great bloggers relating to eating well on a budget. Below, they share their advice on everything from bargain hunting to growing gardens to grocery shopping. I hope you’ll find their tips as helpful and valuable as I have. Enjoy!
“I think anyone who cares about healthy eating should learn to roast vegetables or cook them on the grill,” says Kalyn Denny, the voice behind Kalyn’s Kitchen, a recipe blog focusing on healthier, lower-glycemic cooking. “People who think vegetables come in freezer packages would be amazed how incredible roasted fresh vegetables taste.” Kalyn adds that learning to make “good, homemade soup is another key to eating delicious homemade food on a budget. Inexpensive ingredients like dried beans and lentils can be combined with fresh vegetables and herbs to make an endless variety of healthful soups and other main dishes.”
Kim Maes, a busy mother of two boys and the founder of Cook It Allergy Free, found planting a vegetable garden in her backyard to be a big budget-saving experience. “It did not take a lot of space and with so many different container options available, anyone can do it, even if they only have a patio,” she says. “We grew broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, arugula, strawberries, eggplant, artichokes, peppers, onions, carrots, tons of tomatoes, and a variety of herbs. It has saved us so much money already and the fact that I (the person with the blackest thumb around) can do it means that just about anyone can do it.”
For more tips from Kim about eating from your garden for easy gluten-free living, see her post here.
Shop in Bulk
When asked about her top budget-friendly shopping tips, Kalyn answered, “I always buy in bulk, unless I don’t have a way to keep the food good before it can all be used.” She adds that shopping in bulk and keeping a well-stocked kitchen can also “be a time saver, because I always have a pantry and freezer bursting with food and can usually cook a meal without dashing to the store to buy ingredients.” Be sure to check out Kalyn’s informative posts on how and why to freeze citrus juice and herbs.
For those with families, cooking in large batches can prove helpful in saving both money and time. “I make big batches on the weekends of pancakes, muffins, waffles, cookies, and rolls,” says Kim. “I then freeze them so that I can just pull them out quickly for easy and healthy breakfasts or snacks during the week when I do not have as much time.”
Shop the Sales
“Take advantage of sales,” advises Winnie Abramson, the author of Healthy Green Kitchen, a natural foods and green living blog. “Large supermarkets as well as health food stores typically discount numerous items significantly, so buy these when you can. When organic butter and frozen fruit are on sale, for example, stock up and keep them in the freezer. Sales are also a great time to stock up on items that you really enjoy, but may generally avoid buying due to their cost.”
Alisa Fleming, founder of Go Dairy Free and the voice behind Dairy-Free and Fit and Alisa Cooks, is a self-proclaimed bargain hunter and coupon queen. “To save time and money with grocery shopping,” she says, “we check all of the weekly ads (usually online) and plan out our grocery shopping trips to hit the stores in the most convenient way possible. This also allows me to compare sale prices in advance and gather coupons (or look for them online) for an even better deal.” Alisa recommends checking websites such as Mambo Sprouts and Coupons.com for coupons that yield big savings.
(Pictured above is a one-pot favorite of mine: Roasted Squash & White Bean Skillet)
Enjoy One-Pot Meals
“I try to plan one-pot meals whenever possible,” Alisa says. “I’m big on stir-fries, pasta dishes, and potato skillets. [They’re] inexpensive, fast, and a full meal that you can load up with vegetables.”
Try these one-pot recipes:
- Chipotle Chicken & Chard Chili from Alisa Cooks
- Vegan Vegetable Curry with Mint-Cilantro Chutney from Healthy Green Kitchen
- Roasted Squash & White Bean Skillet from Daily Bites
Focus on Unprocessed Foods
Kim, who cooks gluten-free for her family, says that she tries to “focus on whole, natural foods and nothing processed. The processed gluten-free items are often really expensive and quite nutrient-void. By centering our meals around fresh, wholesome ingredients, we are not only staying healthier, but also saving money.”
When it comes to saving money and time in the kitchen, sometimes simple is best. “No matter what,” says Winnie, “I think it’s important to stay away from fast foods and packaged, processed foods if you want to be healthy. While these products may be attractive because they are inexpensive, most likely you will pay down the road in terms of poor health if these foods make up the bulk of your diet.”