The holidays are over, leaving most of us in a sugary fog laden with a spare tire around our waste, and for many, a set of handcuffs around our wallets.
But the aftermath of the end of the year doesn’t have to be bogged down by bad thoughts of calories past and interest rates present. Now is a great time to get back on the affordable and healthy train.
Health and cost go hand-in-hand when it comes to food, as it’s not only more affordable to eat well; it often leads to fewer doctor visits and thus, fewer prescriptions and other medical costs.
Take a look at the following list for the best ways to simultaneously tighten the wallet and the waistline.
Stop eating out.
Restaurants are more expensive across the board – even if you’re patronizing a drive through. One side salad at a restaurant can be more than double the cost of an entire head of lettuce from the grocery store. Entrees are not only slathered in butter, oil, and excess sodium, but the cost is tough to justify while on a budget. Beverages are another hidden tab-booster, with most non-alcoholic choices costing at least a dollar. And if you’re at a sit-down eatery, don’t forget to factor in tax and tip.
While it may seem like the convenience of restaurant eating outweighs the cost, think again. Investing in some well-planned groceries and preparing them at home is the most effective way to reduce cost and increase health.
Plan your grocery list.
Look up some recipes on websites like allrecipes.com, simplyrecipes.com or canyoustayfordinner.com. Spend some time finding recipes that are at your skill level and use ingredients that you are familiar with.
Make a detailed grocery list of not only the necessary ingredients from your recipes, but also of specific snacks and everyday items that you know you will need. Once you hit the store, follow that list as strictly as possible. The quickest way to rack up a high grocery bill is to throw things in the cart that you hadn't planned on buying. Even if the items in question are on sale, it doesn't mean that they are inexpensive.
Buy store brands.
Gone are the days where store brands are the taboo alternative to private labels and name brands. The cheaper substitutes are almost always as tasty and rarely as expensive. Stores often have additional coupons on their brands, offering an even further discount.
Don’t be afraid to test your limits and go outside of your comfort zone in order to find healthier and less costly alternatives.