I recently recommitted to healthy eating. Of course, it’s always been important to me. But naturally sometimes I stray from it. I started a new relationship last year and we enjoyed indulging in lots of tasty meals together. The COVID-19 pandemic hit and the stress made me want to comfort eat. But it’s time to get back on track.
I tend to spend a lot of my budget on food. However, healthy eating has actually helped me get back on track with frugal food choices. For me, the two often go hand-in-hand. Here are five examples:
1. Eating a Plant-Based Diet
I’m not here to debate the merits of different types of diets. For one thing, everyone has different dietary needs. But for me, a plant-based diet makes sense. I eat mostly vegetarian anyway. But even if I didn’t, I believe that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (especially vegetables, especially leafy green ones) is a healthy choice.
This isn’t really an issue of whether or not you want to spend money for meat. Certainly, the fact that I don’t buy meat does reduce my grocery bill. But you know what reduces it more? Not buying processed, packaged foods. I have been known to spend a lot on soy and dairy products. Sometimes I spend a lot on prepared foods, either at the deli area of a grocery store or via takeout. By emphasizing plant-based, simple meals, I skip all that. It has significantly reduced my grocery bill.
Along with that, I’ve cut most added sugar out of my diet. That’s definitely the best thing for my health. And it means I spend less as well.
2. Eating in Season
I’m usually pretty good about this anyway. And I’m lucky to live in California where I can get a lot of local in-season produce really easily and affordably. But I’ve stepped it up. I’m trying to only buy produce that’s right in the midst of its season so the price is good. I get farm food delivery and have considered switching to Imperfect Produce to save even more money.
3. Reducing Alcohol Consumption
I had started drinking quite a bit there for awhile. It wasn’t anything problematic. But one glass of wine every few nights turned into every night turned into a few every night. I was drinking more cocktails as well. While I wasn’t feeling huge ramifications from that, I did notice it starting to affect my sleep, my weight, and my general energy levels. So I’ve cut way back on that. I’m enjoying a glass now and then, which means I really enjoy it more. It’s a healthier choice for me. And it’s way cheaper.
4. Keeping Meals Simple
I’m trying to create really simple meals with very few ingredients. Instead of having three different types of things for one meal, I try to stick to just one. I try to limit sauces and condiments and other additions. My goal is to really enjoy the flavor of simple foods. This is healthy for me not just in terms of calories but in terms of really appreciating and mindfully enjoying my food. And doing it means I’m spending less money on each meal.
5. Eating Less
More than any other choice I’ve made, the one that’s best for both my budget and my waistline is the conscious decision to eat less. I’m eating fewer calories. I’m making sure the ones I do eat are nutritious, so that it’s a healthy choice, not one that makes me feel like I’m starving. By eating less, I’m buying less food. So eating less is obviously a frugal choice. Even in instances where I pay more for an item (getting an organic option for example), I’m still paying less for food overall.
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