This might be the last Healthy on a Budget series post. I hope not since this focuses on what not to do, and I like to sandwich a negative between two positives. Actually, I like to sandwich just about anything, but that’s beside the point.
1. Don’t dine out. Why is something so simple also so hard? It’s true though. I can order an unhealthy lasagna dish at a restaurant for $17 before tax and tip, or I can cook my healthier veggie lasagna recipe for $2.16 per serving. That’s based on 6 servings, so if we hold serving size constant, it’s $3.24 for 4 servings. That’s seems huge, but try multiplying it by 2 for date night with a couple drinks. Yowzah!
2. Don’t be fooled by fancy packaging. There are lots of healthy foods out there with very pretty packaging, but that doesn’t mean they’re any better than Plain-Jane goods. For instance, fancy potato chips can be pricey, especially on a per-oz basis. It’s not hard to roast your own potato slices or cubes though. Sweet potato “fries” anyone? If you’re a sucker for overpriced 100-calorie packs of treats, I bet you can create better tasting ones yourself. If you like portion control, make things that can be frozen and reheated for
PMS week desperate times.
3. Don’t overdo the booze. I’m a total Negative Nelly today, aren’t I? Booze adds up though, especially if you’re not drinking at home. Restaurants commonly mark up alcohol prices by about 200%. Wine Enthusiast Magazine explains the reason behind the markups, but no matter where you drink, you’ll save money if you drink less – end of story.
4. Don’t stick to the recipe. Sometimes I have a recipe in-mind, but I later find the grocery store to have one ingredient priced waaaay too high. I just substitute frozen goods or a vegan alternative, or I try a new veggie. Scallops not on sale? Buy shrimp. Organic beef a little pricey? Try Morningstar Farms veggie crumbles. Leftover wine that might not still taste good in your glass can still add unexpected umph to an entree.
5. Don’t go ga-ga for organic. Organic goods benefit more than your body, so if I had the willpower and the means to buy everything organic, I would. However, that’s just not in the cards for me, and I bet a lot of you are in the same boat. If you’re going to make a few organic splurges, don’t spend a bunch of money on organic junk foods. I think Kate Geagan, MS, RD says it best:
Just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy! Organic soda, ice cream and potato chips, for instance, are still high calorie splurges that can pack on the pounds and pad your grocery bill.
6. Don’t be a meathead. I’m not vegetarian, but I don’t eat a lot of meat. Sometimes Kevin and I will split a chicken breast in a stir fry or other one-pot meal. We still get all the protein we need from the veggies, grains, and/or any added beans or cheese. This is much better for the grocery bill!
Of course, “growing” boys still deserve extra meat if they really want it…
- Are you a sucker for any of these, or do you have more to add to the list?