By Jessica Sepel – The Healthy Life

“But Jess, eating healthy is just so expensive. I’ve got other things I need to be spending money on. There’s no way to eat healthy without breaking the bank.”

Oh, the excuses I’ve heard in clinic! And while I completely understand the importance of a budget and spending within your means – especially as a university student or a family – I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely possible to eat healthy on a budget. The fact is, healthy living shouldn’t be costing you more if you’re following a few strategic tips.

Prep a meal plan. I create a little meal plan for my week and so I know 80% of what I will be making for breakfast, lunch and dinner most days. This way, I only buy what I need. Creating a meal schedule really helps you stick to this because you know what you’ll want to have on hand and nothing will go to waste.

Shop with a list. In the same sense, having a plan of attack before you go to the store will help keep you on track. It saves you so much money; we waste a lot on processed foods that are marketed well. It’s easy to fall victim to clever marketing when we stray from the items that we actually need.

Shop with a purpose. When you have the intention of buying unhealthy food in the grocery store, well, you create your own reality! It rules out so many healthy options you would usually put into your trolley just because that’s how our psyche works. Before you even walk in the door, make the decision that you will not buy processed foods; that only fresh foods will be going home with you.

Shop around. As Michel Pollen says – shop AROUND the supermarket. It’s honestly not necessary to walk into the supermarket aisles; this is usually where the processed and packaged foods are. Try and shop on the outskirts of your supermarket – the fresh food aisles – as this is where you’ll find fruit, vegetables, good quality dairy and meat.

Visit farmers markets. One of my favourite places to shop! You’ll find the freshest produce for much cheaper – and you’ll know exactly where it’s coming from. Organic food that has had to travel thousands of miles may not only be more expensive, but it’s not as fresh. Bonus points if you get to know your local farmers – you may learn about bulk discounts and share programs that could be beneficial if your family goes through a lot of fresh produce, eggs or meat.

Love leftovers. I always make extra dinner to eat for lunch the next day. Not only does it save me a lot of time, it saves money too! Food is much more likely to get eaten, there is less waste, and it’s a winner all around.

Alcohol. If you’re embracing a healthier life, you’re probably already drinking less! It’s probably no surprise that alcohol is very expensive, and some people spend a significant amount of money on it on a weekly basis. Think of it as an easy way to cut back on costs! I love a good red wine and savour it on weekends and special occasions. Drinking less saves me so much money!

I’d love to hear from you on this topic: how do you live healthy on a budget? What are your favourite tips to eat real, whole, delicious foods with plenty of money left over each month?