Anytime you embark on healthy eating, it can be so easy to blow your paycheck on your new lifestyle, so be sure to keep in mind certain budget mistakes to avoid so this doesn’t happen to you. As a healthy eater for years now, I’ve learned just how easy it is to blow your finances on health food. It is an easy thing to do, and something probably all of us have done at some point or another. That being said, luckily there are some simple things to do to prevent literally eating your way into debt. Keep these budget mistakes to avoid in mind, so you can keep your waistline and your wallet right in check where they should be!
1. Buy Just Enough
One of the biggest budget mistakes to avoid when starting a health program is to buy too much at one time. I am so guilty of this, but let me share with you what works for me: counting. I literally count exactly how much of each thing I’ll need for 7 days and no more. Then, at the store, no matter how much I’m tempted to buy, I know I won’t eat all that food in a week and can easily go back to the store in 7 days and get more. Plus, it’s a little invigorating to see the fridge all clean and empty on the 7th day right before you go to the store. It’s not only a friendly reminder you won’t be throwing food away, but also a nice reminder that you didn’t blow your budget and have plenty to spend this week.
2. Keep It Clean
Another way to avoid blowing your budget on health foods is to keep your meals clean. Don’t buy processed health and diet foods, which are very costly. Keep your eating clean by choosing basic healthy foods. Vegetables, some fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and plain nuts and seeds aren’t expensive on their own in small amounts, but when you buy processed healthy cereals, granola bars, snacks, and beverages, the costs can add up quickly. Plus, whole foods will keep your body fuller longer because they contain more nutrients than processed foods do.
3. Price Check
Never shop at one store unless you already know they have the lowest prices on most all your items. I know it’s more convenient, but it’s not budget friendly to shop at the same store for everything. You don’t have to visit too many stores, but at least price check between two or three. I never usually have to shop at more than two stores, and I try to visit stores that are close to one another so I don't waste gas. I also order many items cheaper online, which also saves gas, and I get free shipping. Always price check for healthy items for your new lifestyle. Never just assume one store has the best prices for everything.
4. Rotate Proteins
Another tip I’d suggest anyone to try is to rotate out your pricier items, such as protein, each week. This can help save you money and is also better for your body. For instance, don’t buy premium meats every week as your protein source. How about buying a little one week, and opting for eggs, canned fish, quinoa, or yogurt another week? These items are cheaper, high quality protein, and can help save you money in the long run. I also suggest keeping an inexpensive, clean, plant-based protein on hand like hemp, which you can use in breakfast smoothies and which will also save you money.
5. Drink Mostly Water
There are all kinds of fun health drinks out there like superfood juices, kombucha, and specialty teas, but they can add up in costs. It's best to buy one a week if you just have to have them, and drink mostly water the rest of the time. Coffee also isn’t expensive, so long as you keep it to one or two cups a day. I also like keeping plain green tea bags on hand when I want something different and still healthy too. Yet, water with a lemon slice is usually my beverage of choice, and it’s nearly free in cost.
6. Don’t Overeat
This one might seem silly, but it’s true. Just because celery sticks and almonds are healthy doesn’t mean it gives you free range to eat two or three servings as a snack. This might be healthier than chips and dip, but it’s not saving you money. Eat proper portions of foods, and don’t overeat. You’ll enjoy your next meal or snack much more if you’re truly hungry and not just eating to eat.
7. Buy Organic Only when Necessary
I am really big on buying organic foods as much as possible, but as a woman on a budget, I’ve learned to only buy organic on necessary items. For instance, I stick to the Dirty Dozen list when choosing what produce items to buy organic, and I try to choose safe conventional items that aren’t organic as most of my produce each week. This can help save you a little money each week. Now, that doesn’t mean you should shy away from organic totally. It is much better for you, and it’s not that much more expensive per item. However, going to the store and sticking to “organic or nothing” on everything you buy can really blow your budget in no time.
8. Keep Exercise Basic
Don't be tempted to join pricey gyms, health clubs, or nutrition clubs if you're on a budget. Also, stay away from those expensive DVD fitness sets. Basic exercise will keep you healthy and help you lose weight if you need to. Walking or jogging around your neighborhood is free, despite the challenges of the weather. It might not be ideal, but it is free! You can do toning exercises in your living room, use household items for weights, and go to YouTube to watch free fitness videos.
9. Don't over Think It
Many people over think eating healthy. Yet, really, the basic stuff is what works: veggies, lean protein, whole grains, low sugar fruits, healthy fats, and no sugar or refined grains. All the other stuff isn't necessary, and supplements can be a waste of money. It's easy to over analyze healthy living, thinking you "need" something else to give your plan an edge, but you don't. I promise, it's much simpler than you give it credit for, and it will help you save money to remember that.
Finding ways to avoid blowing your budget on a diet isn’t hard, it just takes a little creativity and planning. How do you avoid making budget mistakes while eating healthy?