We get it, between monthly bills, rent and car expenses, it’s easy to end up with a limited budget for groceries. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthy.
Yes, even with just $3 per day.
Sounds impossible? Here are some easy ways to stretch your dollar and eat well.
Set Your Budget
Decide how much money you can include in your food budget.
At $3 per day, you have a weekly food budget of $21. It sounds tight, but when you create a good strategy, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to follow.
Make a Meal Plan
When you make a weekly meal plan, you’re not just mapping out your daily meals. You’re keeping yourself accountable and on track throughout the week.
If your meal plan doesn’t include a latte and pastry from your local coffee shop, guess what? You’re not going to have it that week.
But that doesn’t mean your meal plan has to feel like a prison. With smart recipes, you won’t feel deprived.
Use the Same Ingredients Across Many Recipes
If your meal plan includes a wide variety of dishes, you can easily exceed your budget. That’s because recipes might not share common ingredients. So, when planning your week’s meals, try to come up with ideas that have a lot in common without getting boring.
For example, you can roast chicken thighs with carrots one night. The next day, use the leftover chicken and bones to make a yummy soup, to which you can add rice, onion, garlic and carrots. The next day, you can have a Chinese stir fry with rice, beans, left over chicken, onions and garlic.
Do you see the pattern? You can make chicken and carrots go a long way!
Cook Homemade Meals
As you can see, when you become the cook, you can be smart about recipe planning.
What’s more, you get to choose how much sugar and sodium you add to your meals. Many prepared and processed foods, including soups and frozen meals, are loaded with sugars, salt, preservatives and additives. But by making meals yourself, you know you’re eating healthier and cleaner dishes.
Plus, you can make larger batches, and use the leftovers as easy lunch and dinner options.
Learn to Preserve Produce
You can also freeze some leftovers to enjoy during the rest of the month.
This is especially clever and frugal when fruits and vegetables are in season. During the summer and early fall months, buy up lots of produce when It’s the most affordable, and then preserve them. You can enjoy summer vegetables during the cold winter months by pickling or preserving them.
The same goes for sweet fruits that you can transform into cozy jams, or jarred fruit.
Ditch Fancy Name Brands and Junk Food
Even though junk food seems like a cheap alternative to healthy vegetables, it’s actually not. Sure, the sticker price might be lower, but you’re not going to get much sustenance from it.
So, you’ll eat unhealthy food, and then, you’ll feel hungry after eating those potato chips.
Another good way to stay within your weekly food budget is to reach for generic brands instead of the fancier name brands. Once you check the ingredient list, you’ll see that many foods are pretty much the same.
What sets them apart? Catchy marketing and campaign slogans.
Budget Friendly Food Options
Now, $3 per day may seem impossible. But try not to shop on a daily basis with only three dollars to your name. That’s not smart!
Instead, stock up at the beginning of the week with the entire budget at your disposal. Here are some budget-friendly staples to stock up on.
Flour is incredibly inexpensive. And even though most bread isn’t pricey, you can cut costs by baking your own bread. It’s very easy and the end result is immensely gratifying. Imagine the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through your house.
Buy Grains in Bulk
Oats, rice, quinoa and popcorn are all budget friendly grains, especially when you buy them in bulk. Why’s that?
They’re usually cheaper per pound. Plus, when you buy bulk, you don’t buy all of that unnecessary packaging, as well as the flavors and additives that get mixed in with most boxed varieties of grains.
Eggs are an amazing food, full of good protein and healthy fats. What’s more, they’re very affordable and versatile. You can scramble, fry, poach or bake them. You can make an omelet, a frittata or quiche, which make easy and convenient leftovers, too.
Frozen and Fresh Veggies
Frozen vegetables and canned tomatoes are an affordable way to meet your daily nutritional needs without spending exorbitant amounts on fresh produce.
But there are some vegetables you can buy that are always affordable. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic are usually well priced. Plus, they’re versatile and keep for a long time, too.
The Meat Department
Meat can be expensive, but on a tight budget, opt for chicken thighs rather than chicken breasts. You can also ask the meat department for beef bones and chicken bones. With them, you can make mouth-watering bone stock for satisfying soups and stews.
Get Your Fruit Fix
Bananas, apples and oranges are usually budget friendly. But the best way to buy affordable fruit is to purchase what’s in season, or to shop at your local farmer’s market. There, you get higher quality food at lower prices.
Learn to Cook Legumes
A can of beans isn’t very expensive, but a bag of dried legumes is even more cost efficient. Learning to soak and cook these legumes is super easy, and you’ll end up with protein-dense, versatile foods for many meals.
Lentils, garbanzo beans, black beans and pinto beans go well in soups, with rice and stir fry’s, and so much more.
Make Budget Friendly Sandwiches
Now that you know how to bake your own delicious bread, you can make sandwiches for your lunch break. Peanut butter, as well as canned salmon and tuna, are all easy ways to pack healthy proteins and fats into a humble sandwich.
With a little planning, even a small budget can be nutritious and delicious. Start with a meal plan, and eat healthy all week.