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Healthy Budget Meals

It is easy for the average person to save money while eating healthy meals and snacks. Here is a list of four suggestions to show you where you can cut your food spending while improving your health. The only questions to consider are how much are you willing to change your habits and how much do you want to save?

#1) The easiest way to save is to stop eating out. Restaurant meals can be 50% – more or less – of the average American family’s food budget each month, so this is an easy source of savings. You are paying a premium for the convenience of letting someone else prepare your meals when you eat in a restaurant or fast food stand. With a little thought and preparation at home, you can set yourself up to prepare a variety of meals you can take to work for lunch.

The key here is that YOU control the ingredients; YOU can buy ingredients in bulk for savings when you do your weekly shopping; and you can save the time and hassle of going out to eat, waiting for service, and wondering how sanitary the kitchen is and how healthy the ingredients are.

#2) Cook everything at home from scratch. There are many good cookbooks available from your library that can give you ideas for dishes that are healthy and will save you money. Replaced imported items with local ones.

The book, “Diet for a Small Planet”, gives a good philosophical framework as well as recipes to help you get in tune with the new trend back to healthy eating. It may also help persuade you to “go for extra points” by adopting the next recommendation.

Money saved is better than money earned because you don’t have to pay taxes on savings.

Make your own sauces. Buy whatever you can in bulk. Buy produce direct from the farmers’ market. Avoid produce imported from other states and countries. Eat local for savings.

And, of course, start making your coffee at home! No more $4 cups from Starbuck’s. Times have changed.

#3) Big savings are available simply by cutting the ammount of meat in a dish or replacing it altogether. Fill up your family on healthy, relatively cheap veggies, whole grains, beans, and less meat.

Many ethnic cuisines such as Mexican, Thai, or Chinese, for example, contain a much smaller percentage of meat than does the standard American meal. Meat is a big expense – it can be inexpensively replaced with textured vegetable protein or tempeh, a fermented soybean curd. (When going meatless, be sure to combine wholegrain noodles or brown rice with bean protein to make the meal more filling.)

Shop the sale items in the meat department if you must have fresh meat. Frozen ground turkey is one of the best values in the meat department. Fish is another low-cost protein.

#4) Start growing a vegetable garden. This can be a very simple or a big production – it’s best to start simple to get the hang of growing your own vegetables. You can start by growing salad greens and tomatoes in pots of five-gallon buckets on your back porch. If you have room, growing veggies from seed or starts in raised beds in your yard pays more than $20/hour in equivalent savings and there are no taxes on this “income” and no commuting to this second job.

Tough times can teach us all how much money we have been wasting on needless luxuries. Don’t waste time fighting it – Get good at cooking at home on a budget!