A lot of people believe that their food budget is their primary barrier to eating healthy and fighting obesity. But that doesn’t have to be true. It is possible to lose weight and eat more healthy, even with a budget; in fact, having a food budget may actually help you with sticking to you your diet goals in the long run. Here’s how:
Set Up A Budget
Do a self-audit. Examine exactly how much money you are spending on food each month. Don’t just count what you spend at the grocery store. Look at what you spend on snacks and at restaurants, too.
You’re probably spending a lot more than you think you are. Now, if you threw all of that money at your grocery store budget, you’d probably have a lot more money to spend on healthy food.
Calculate how much money you will need to spend at the grocery store each week in order to eat healthy on your budget. If you don’t ballpark the estimate perfectly for the first few weeks, that’s ok. You’ll get better with time.
Make A Menu
With your budget and your diet in mind, decide ahead of time what meals you want to make and eat. Take time to sort through recipes. Choose simple recipes that you will like with ingredients that you know you (and your family) will eat so that you don’t waste money on food that’s going to rot in your fridge. Planning your meals ahead of time will make it easier to avoid the temptation to eat convenient foods or to go out to a restaurant. Meal planning can be done in a number of ways; there are websites and apps that assist with meal planning, but if you want to do it in a more customized way, that’s fine, too.
Make A List
After you have planned your menu for the week, use it to make a list of the kinds of ingredients that you will need, paying attention to the quantity of those ingredients that you need. This step is important. Without a grocery list, you probably will forget things that you need to buy, or you will be tempted and distracted by items that aren’t on your list. You’ll be more likely to buy anything that looks interesting, even if it’s not useful to your healthy diet. It’s easier to stick with your diet if you’re only putting things into your cart that are off your healthy list.
Choose Your Stores Carefully
People are more likely to buy junk food that appears easily in their view. Most grocery stores use marketing tactics to entice their customers into buying overpriced, unhealthy treats. One of the most common tactics is to place sweets and snacks and ready-made food products near the front of the store, and to cram the fruits and vegetables in the back of the store. You can’t get to the healthy food without first overcoming a sea of temptation. Beware of stores that use manipulative tactics to try and get you to buy unhealthy products. As an alternative, consider attending local farmers markets in your area.
Children are especially tempted by sugary sweets and snacks that are advertised to them, and parents who shop with their children feel more pressured to buy these unhealthy foods. If you have children, it is especially important not to give in to their pressure. There are different approaches to solving this problem. Perhaps it would be best for you to shop alone. Perhaps it would be best to take them with you to teach your children about diet and about the importance of buying and eating healthy food. Perhaps it would be best to do your shopping only at local farmers markets or other health-focused produce stores. The easiest strategy will vary depending on your personal situation.
Being healthy means being smart about how you shop. Evaluate your food spending habits, and adjust your budget. Decide what meals you want to make in a given week, and make a grocery list based off of those recipes. Choose the stores that you shop at wisely. Stick to your grocery list. And make the experience fun by going to local farmers markets and exploring health-conscious stores. Eating healthy on a budget will be a lot easier when you improve your approach to meal planning and shopping.