Hacks that will make a healthy diet more affordable
Whether you're on a quest to look better or feel better, healthy eating is the foundation of everything.
But there's a reason why so many of us get discouraged when it comes to sticking to a healthy diet -- it can get pretty pricey to buy fresh, good-for-you foods.
But you don't have to give up on your commitment to healthy eating just because you're on a budget. There are ways to follow a healthy diet and still keep the costs down if you make some small tweaks to the way you shop and cook.
Still not convinced? We've got eight super-smart hacks that can help make your healthy diet more affordable -- so you'll have no excuses.
1. Eat at home
This one is probably pretty obvious, but eating at home is a lot cheaper than dining out. So even if your favorite restaurant has a menu with plenty of healthy options, you'll save by cooking your own dinner. In many cases, you'll pay the same amount for one or two meals out as you would for four meals at home. And cooking at home means you can control all the ingredients, so you know exactly how healthy the food actually is.
Instant Pot Duo Nova: $149.99 at Macy's (was $187.99)
We get it; it's all too easy to rely on the convenience of take-out after working all day. But you can set yourself up for success to prepare healthy meals at home in no time even if you haven't prepared the ingredients ahead of time with an Instant Pot, the best friend of busy parents and employees who want to eat well without too much effort.
2. Plan your meals
If you meal-plan ahead of time, you can save serious money at the grocery store. That's because you'll know exactly what meals you're making that week and only buy the ingredients you need. You won't have to worry about any of the food going bad before you can use it and winding up in the trash either.
Kate Spade New York Citrus Twist Weekly Meal Planner: $18 at Macy's
Meal planning can be a real time-saver, too, because you can do all of your cooking on the weekend and then just reheat your healthy meals during the week. Use a meal planner like this one from Kate Spade to plan a week's worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas -- and jot down a grocery list for your shopping trips at the same to stay organized.
3. Grow your own veggies and herbs
If you've got the space, growing your own vegetables and herbs can save you plenty of money on healthy recipes. Seeds don't cost much at all, so if you're willing to put in the time -- and a little effort -- you can grow your own tomatoes, onions, and other veggies.
Plant Theatre Psychedelic Salad Kit: $18.99 at Amazon
This kit includes seeds for cucumbers, lettuce, beets, onions, and radishes to help get you started. It also includes five biodegradable pots and peat discs, so you have everything you need to get started.
Spade to Fork Indoor Herb Garden Starter Kit: $19.97 at Amazon (was $29.99)
Don't have space for a vegetable garden? Everyone has room for a windowsill herb garden, and this herb garden starter kit makes it super easy to set up. Fresh herbs add major flavor, too, so your healthy meals will taste even better.
4. Buy frozen produce when it's out of season
You'll always pay less if you buy seasonal produce, so if your favorite fruits and veggies aren't in season, hit the frozen food aisle. Frozen fruits and veggies sometimes get a bad rap, but there are plenty of ways to make the most of them.
Nordic Ware Aluminum Commercial Baker's Half Sheet (2-Pack): $21.99 at Amazon
Roast frozen vegetables in a pan for a simple side dish. Add olive oil and a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt flakes, then throw them frozen into the over -- no need to thaw. The best part about frozen veggies? They're often cut into bite-size pieces, meaning less prep time for you.
KitchenAid 2 Speed Hand Blender: $49.99 at Macy's (was $62.99)
You can also turn veggies in a creamy and healthy soup with the ease and convenience of a hand blender, which you can use directly in your stockpot without the need to transfer hot soup from stovetop to blender and back.
NutriBullet Pro High-Speed Blender: $79.99 at Amazon
Toss frozen fruit directly into a high-power blender to make a smoothie, or thaw some berries and mix them into a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt.
5. Use every part of your veggies
You can get the most bang for your buck if you don't waste any food when eating healthy. Don't throw away your vegetable peelings, leaves, and stalks; instead, use them to make homemade veggie stock. Pieces of onions, carrots, and celery are the best stock candidates, but unused bits of potatoes, green beans, leeks, bell peppers, broccoli, eggplant, and asparagus are also delicious additions.
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Steel Stock Pot: $41.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond
Making stock is easy -- just toss veggie scraps into a large stockpot with salt, pepper, herbs, and spices, then cover with water and let it all simmer for about an hour.
6. Buy grains, pasta, and other basics in bulk
As with most things, buying healthy pantry basics in bulk is the best way to get a good deal. Whether you order online or visit the bulk section at your local supermarket, buying in bulk will also help you to make fewer grocery visits.
OXO Good Grips 5-Piece POP Container Set: $49.95 at Amazon
Foods like rice, millet, flour, oats, pasta, lentils, sugar, and dried fruit can keep really well as long as you store them in airtight containers like this set from OXO. With these staple foods, you can make a bunch of healthy recipes that won't hurt your wallet at all.
7. Cook large portions for leftovers
Preparing larger portions of your favorite meals doesn't just save you time, but money, too. This is especially useful if you're cooking for a family, as you can send leftovers in work or school lunches or freeze them to have on hand for busy weeknights or babysitters.
Pyrex Glass Food Container Set 18-Piece: $25.99 at Amazon (was $44.99)
You can eat your leftovers as-is or use them in other recipes like salads and burritos, save them for work lunches, or freeze single-serving portions in freezer-, oven-, and microwave-safe Pyrex containers for quick, easy workday dinners.
8. Buy whole foods and prep in advance
Foods like pre-shredded cheese and pre-diced onions are definitely convenient and time-saving, but you'll pay a lot more for them than you would the whole foods. Save money by buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself or getting whole onions and chopping them yourself.
Stasher 100% Silicone Reusable Food Bag: $19.97 at Amazon
Clean all your produce when you get it home from the store and cut it before putting it away. Store everything in these top-rated silicone bags from Stasher, which will replace the recurring expense of disposable plastic bags. Food is all ready to go for dinner during the week.
J.A. Henckels Chef's Knife: $44.99 at Amazon (was $109)
If chopping your own vegetables seems like too much work, that likely means you're using a dull knife. Invest in a sharp chef's knife to make your food prep tasks actually easy.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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