You don’t need to spend a lot of money to create a healthy kitchen. In fact, a healthy kitchen can end up saving you money. If you’re used to a lot of quick, high-calorie, high-fat snacks, the makeover might be a little more difficult, but once you get into the rhythm of buying the right foods, you’ll be saving money and eating better without even realizing it.
Raid Your Cupboards and Your Fridge
Take out everything that you can’t qualify as even remotely healthy. This includes desserts, fried foods, high-fat snacks, pastries and sodas. For each item you take out, think of at least two alternatives that are either cheaper or healthy. For example, diet soda is better than regular because you’re saving calories. Choose seltzer water instead and you’ll be spending less and getting something healthier. Invest on a water filter one time and you have the healthiest option for the cheapest possible price. Do the same with the items in your fridge. Dairy products can be switched to the low-fat version, or you can buy half dairy and half soy products (such as soymilk). You’re reducing the fat content and getting additional nutrients.
Stock Up on Staples
Cooking from scratch allows you to choose what goes into the dish, so you can pick the healthiest ingredients. The more you cook from scratch, the more you’ll save to. Much of the price you pay for pre-packaged food is for the convenience of having something you can throw into the microwave. Spend a little more time in the kitchen and make your own meals and both your wallet and your waist will thank you. Staples to stock up on include whole grains such as brown rice and oats, flour, beans and lentils, dry fruits and nuts and whole wheat pasta.
Fruits and Vegetables
Organic fruits and vegetables are the ultimate healthy fare, but stick to organic only and you’ll end up spending a fortune. If you can only afford a few organic items, try buying strawberries, broccoli and tomatoes organic, as these carry a lot of pesticides. For everything else, try frozen veggies. While fresh fruits and vegetables are ideal, they might not be the cheapest option, especially if they’re not in season. Frozen veggies are equally nutritious and are usually cheaper.
Stick to Leaner Proteins
Avoid beef. Cheaper types of red meats, such as minced beef, is usually high fat and not a good choice when it comes to health. Steak and fillet mignon might be lower in fat but they’re not wallet-friendly. Stick to fish and chicken as much as possible. While salmon and seafood might be expensive, you can find cheaper cuts of fish, like mackerel. Buy in bulk when you find a good cut of meat at a good price. Freeze what you can’t immediately use. Try serving a few meatless meals a week. Beans and lentils are high in protein but contain no cholesterol and are lower in calories than meats. They’re also a lot cheaper.