One thing I get asked about often by clients and something I struggle with myself is how to have a well balanced diet, while staying within my budget. Its the sad truth, its much more expensive to eat healthy than it is to eat junk food. I heard there's a law in France, where the grocery stores aren't allowed to waste any food, they have to give it to the homeless and less fortunate. If this is true, I hope it becomes a trend all over the world. Anyone who knows me , knows I hate grocery shopping. Its cold, its annoying, and I always had this theory that if you eat out the right way, you can save just as much money eating out as you do when you grocery shop. Of course I was wrong about that, after I really started studying nutrition, and budgeting, I found some strategies to make it work much better with my lifestyle , and much more affordable. I still don't enjoy it.
We've all heard the "shop around the outside of the isles" and "buy only whole foods and macros" annoying fitness professional language. I wanted to break it down into terms we all understand. Here's my 5 strategies.
1. If you are a meat eater, buy more affordable cuts of meat. You will be surprised at how much cheaper chicken leg quarters are than breast and wings. Yea , breast are typically more lean than thighs, but if you are eating a well balanced meal, this is not going to destroy your diet. If you're getting ready to compete , that's a different story.
2. Look for the sales. This one seems obvious, but ask a guy when is the last time he went looking for coupons, or sat at the table clipping coupons. Speaking for myself I didn't even think about this until recently. If meat is on sale, buy it in bulk and freeze it, same goes for produce.
3. Look up crock pot recipes , and if you don't own a crock pot, buy one. The slow cooker has been my bread and butter since I moved to too far away to pick up food from my parents house. Its easy to make large amounts of healthy dishes that will last you at least 3 or 4 meals. Just look up a recipe, follow the instructions exactly, and you will find out your'e a better cook than you thought. The food cooks itself, its easy and its cheap, here's a link to one of my favorites, curried chickpea and cauliflower.
4.Start eating more beans, and whole grains. Black beans, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, are all inexpensive and bulk up your meals. This not only good for your pockets, but its good for your health overall. The bulkier the meal, the more and longer you will be full. I spend about $20 tops on ingredients for black bean chili, that will last me at least 10 meals. Whole grains also keep you full longer.
5. Plan out when you're going to eat out. Its almost impossible for me to go more than 3 or 4 days without eating out at some point. So what I did was plan out two nights a week, usually Wednesday night, and Saturday night. This is simple but effective at the same time. All it does is force you to eat out , out of intent and not habit. If you're eating out, out of habit , you are less likely to monitor your spending or even think about the fact that you're doing it too often. If you're one of my coaching clients you will definitely learn the concept of mindful behavior. Its useful in all aspects of life.