Healthy on a Budget: What to avoid

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.

budgetIn case you missed the other posts…

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!

lasagna

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.

da vinci

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!

salami

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?

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15 Responses to Healthy on a Budget: What to avoid

  1. ha ha… I’ve been known to change up the recipe. I call it my “poor girl” version….

  2. This is awesome! My husband and I rarely eat out, and since he’s been vegetarian and now vegan for a few years, we never buy meat. However, fresh produce in mass amounts adds up even when it’s not organic!

  3. I agree with the booze and eating out tip. Bob and I buy wine to keep at home–it would be way too much to order out. We rarely go out to eat, but ordering wine always blows me away in terms of the price! So we’ve come to prefer eating (and drinking) at home!

  4. Nichole says:

    Same as you, not a meathead but do enjoy the occasional burger and such.

    Eating in, packing my lunch, always the best way to be healthy and save $.

  5. I’m so guilty of nearly all of these (except following a recipe, of course). Curiosity killed the cat… errr… my budget (or lack thereof).

  6. Awesome tips! Just cutting out eating out so much has saved us tons of money!

  7. Totally true tips! “Don’t eat lunch out everyday” is a huge one. I try to run home for lunch or pack something, so much cheaper & healthier! Also, coffee in the mornings! A stop even for a plain coffee every day can add up to almost $20/week! Yikes!

  8. The packaging one always gets me. My logic? If it looks prettier, and it’s more expensive, it must taste better! Yeaahhh no. Well, it’s actually true in some cases, but more often than not, the plain Jane version works just as well.

  9. These are awesome tips! I really try to limit my eating out (even though I love it!) to save calories & money. I pretty much bring my lunch to work everyday so that helps. Thanks for sharing the tip about organic goods. I think it’s a common misconception that organic always means healthy.

  10. I am not really on a food budget, but I’ll weigh in. Eating out is EXPENSIVE! I do the organic thing though. Worth it to spend a little more but know what the hell I’m eating.

  11. Awesome tips. I think all of these are on point. I think #1 is huge – especially when eating out can be $30 or more for two people/per meal. That’s more than 1/3 our weekly grocery budget!!!

  12. Abby says:

    I can definitely relate to numbers 1 and 3. Since moving to a place where we don’t know anyone (and really can’t afford), we rarely go out, which leads to less boozing as well. I suppose that might change once we move back East where we have friends ;)

  13. “don’t eat out” is HUGE! We had to stop doing that when we were broke! HAHAH! Now that we’re not, I still prefer to eat at home…isn’t that funny?? Healthier options here ;)

    I love going in to the store with my list and looking for deals!

    xxoo

  14. A good tip, if you want 100 cal snacks, buy the big bags and put them into snack size zip locks! And bam!! I’m a costco addict so that’s what I do.

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