How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Eating healthy is great in concept, but is always much more challenging to put into practice. There’s the whole will power thing — how many times can we be expected to resist the call of pizza? There’s the fact that it just takes a little more time and effort than walking over to the vending machine. And then there’s the real snag, money.

Eating healthy can so easily cost a fortune — have you seen the price of chia seedsthese days? — but there is an affordable way to do it. Promise. You just have to know the tricks. And we’re going to share them with you. Follow these 11 tips, and you’ll be eating healthy AND saving money in no time.

1. Buy seasonally. There are many reasons people tout the benefits of seasonal eating, but one of them is because food is more affordable when it’s in season. (If you’ve ever tried to buy cherries in the winter, you’ll see what we mean.) It came from nearby, which means the shipping costs aren’t hiking up the price of your food. So buy seasonally, and when possible stock up and freeze. This will save you lots in the long run.

2. Plan your meals. We know, we know, no one wants to go through the chore of planning out their meals for the week. But it really does work. Not only does it curb the urge to just order pizza one night when you don’t know what to cook, but it also makes sure that everything you buy will be used.

3. Double up your recipes. Leftovers are everything when you’re trying to eat healthy and save money. They make a quick packed lunch. Or they can mean dinner without the trouble of cooking. It’s double the reward for half the work.

4. Buy whole foods. A brick of cheese is a better deal than the pre-grated stuff. Same goes for fruit and veggies — don’t buy them pre-cut. Ever.

5. Cook at home. Seriously, just do it — and watch your bank account grow over time.

6. Skip the drinks. Water, water, water. That’s what you should be drinking for optimal health, and the best part is that it’s free.

7. Shop at ethnic markets. Not only will this help make your home cooking more interesting, but the spices and ingredients are so much more affordable than what you can find in the international section of your grocery store.

8. Embrace cheaper cuts of meat. Think chicken thigh over chicken breast. Not only is it cheaper, but it has more flavor too. Win, win.

9. Pack your lunch. We hate to be the ones to tell you this, but the days of packed lunches will never be behind you — not unless you want to throw away all your hard earned money on a $10 subpar salad at the place next to your office. On the flip side, you can console yourself with the fact that you’ll save big bucks, eat healthier, and enjoy the taste of your lunch more, too.

10. Give dried beans a try. It’s not as scary as it sounds, and they are so cheap, so filling, plus full of protein. (And, so much tastier than the canned option).

11. Keep your fridge and pantry organized. That’s the only way to make sure nothing is going to waste and that you don’t double down on ingredients you already have.