Often we’re fed the lie that you can’t live a healthy lifestyle without a gym membership, the latest in activewear and organic everything. It can be intimidating to those of of us on a student budget, or a tight budget in general. Fortunately, the truth is that healthy living doesn’t need to be expensive. There are many small and inexpensive ways to build sustainable healthy habits.
The key to eating healthy on a budget is to get organised. Put aside a couple of hours over the weekend to make up a meal plan so you can coordinate meals and only buy what you need. No wasted or unnecessary ingredients here.
The easiest way to stay healthy on a budget is to know how to cook the basics (you know, roasting/sautéing/steaming vegetables, grilling/roasting lean meat, cooking grains etc.). I promise it’s not hard. Ask a family member, friend or search it on youtube. Knowing how to cook will save you so much money; you can swap takeout for home made meals and skip on packaged products at the supermarkets because you can make it yourself!
Keep It Simple
I know some of you might shudder at the thought of cooking anything other than toast (I’ve totally been there before), but the trick is just to keep it simple. You don’t have to be a Masterchef or recreate picture-perfect instagram meals to eat healthy, just collect a bunch of simple recipes that are easy/quick to cook and don’t contain too many ingredients. Ideally, aim for most meals to be a balance of good quality protein, complex carbs and healthy fats (all three macronutrients are needed for your body to work optimally). Think brown rice with steam veggies and chicken or stir-fry or a veggie omelette with a side of wholegrain toast.
Make Use of Leftovers
Either refrigerate or freeze your leftovers to make another separate meal or use those leftovers as ingredients in a different meal (e.g. use the leftover steamed veggies from dinner to pop into your omelette for breaky).
Freeze Or Cook Overripe Fruits And Vegetables
There is a lot you can do with overripe fruit and veggies. Here are a few examples:
- Freeze overripe fruit for smoothies. Just peel off the skins, cut them into bit size pieces and place them in ziplock bags, removing as much air as possible. You could even organise the bags so that each one has the right amount of each fruit that will go into each smoothie.
- Use them in your cooking. Need to use up overripe veggies? Make a deeeeelish veggie soup (simply cut up the veggies, boil them with stock, mash it all up and ta-da!). Need to use up some overripe bananas? Make banana bread.
Fruit and veg can get a little costly, but one of the best solutions is to buy locally. Typically the fruit and vegetables from farmers markets will be much cheaper than those at your generic supermarkets!
Organic Isn’t The Only Option
Any fruit and veg is better than none, even if it’s not organic *gasp*. There, I said it. Don’t be afraid to choose the non-organic options. Although there may be some slight differences in residual pesticides, research shows that there is very little difference in their nutritional content.
Fruits and vegetables are considerably cheaper when they’re in season. So, get to know when different produce are in season in the area that you live and buy accordingly!
Store-bought frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh produce. During the freezing processes, all nutrients are retained and remain that way until they make their way on to your plate. In addition to this, they can be cheaper than their fresh counterpart and last for much longer.
Don’t Get Swept Up In The Superfood Craze
Although clever marketing says otherwise, you don’t need fancy powders, berries or teas to be healthy. Getting in a variety of your standard and ‘boring’ fruit and vegetables will do the trick. So, rather than spending $50 on a greens powder, opt for putting that money towards buying a variety of whole foods (quality grains, beans, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds).
You Don’t Need A Gym Membership
Whilst the gym can facilitate great modes of getting in cardio and strength training, it isn’t the only option. Cardio can be done through walking around your neighbourhood and strength training can be done around the house using household items. I highly recommend looking up at home workouts on YouTube to give you some workout ideas!
Oh and for those of you at university, it also doesn’t hurt to know people studying exercise science. Often they need people willing to be their test subjects!
Do you have any other tips for living a healthy lifestyle on a budget? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear them 🙂