Every time I look over my expenses, I find that most of my money is spent towards food. I like to eat, so I don’t mind forking over a few bucks on a nice meal.
However, one nice meal can turn into two and then three… when does it end? I have to draw a line somewhere, right?Hence, creating a healthy food budget. It doesn’t only save you money, but helps you reach your health goals as well. To create a healthy budget, you need to focus on a few things and really commit to making changes. If you don’t commit, you’ll continue to waste money on unnecessary food expenses that could be going towards more important items in your budget.
Convenience: Preparing Meals Beforehand, aka Meal Prepping
This is, by far, the most budget friendly way of eating. One of the reasons we spend so much money on food is for convenience. We want to sleep in, so we’ll just grab something on the way to work (or at work). We’re tired after work, so we’ll grab something before we get home. It’s so convenient to just pop into a store and buy something pre-made. It’s also a huge waste of money and most likely not very healthy. Check out my post about saving over $1000 by making your own coffee drinks at home.
When you prepare your meals before hand, it’s convenient, and you don’t have to think about what to eat or where to eat. The food is already made. You just grab one and go. I find I save hundreds of dollars a month when I prepare my meals. I prefer to dedicate one day a week to plan and prep all the meals for the week and commit to eating what I’ve created. Need some recipes? Buzzfeed has some yummy ones here.
Creativity is Key
When you’re planning your meals for the week, I have found that being creative with your choices helps a lot, especially if you get sick of foods quickly. I personally don’t mind eating the same thing over and over again, because I’m used to it. However, you can be creative and stay within a good budget.
Be sure to add variety and color to your menu. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve created a month’s worth of meals to feed 2 people for under $300. It’s possible to even spend less than that. I like to shop during the weekend when our grocery store lowers their prices and puts up tons of coupons. Pay attention to when your favorite stores have their sales, and you’ll save some serious cash.
Satisfy Your Cravings, Within Reason
Now, I’m a woman, and I have certain cravings (thanks, PMS). However, I try my hardest to not go overboard, because I know I will eat ALL THE FOODS. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t force yourself to hold back. Have a piece of chocolate or cake – just put it in your budget. Whatever you feel like you absolutely need, put it in your budget. Stick to it. If you can find it on sale, that’s even better.
The point is not to feel so limited that you’re missing out. Changes like this takes time, and a lot of dedication. If you force it, you could revert back to old habits very quickly. Only you know your needs. Make sure they are met, but try to build better habits while you do.
Creating a Healthy Food Budget Takes Effort
At one point in my life, I was living off of oatmeal and eggs, because my budget was stretched so thin. I only drank water, and I never bought fast food. When you add it up, fast food can get really expensive, so I stayed away from it. Now, oatmeal and eggs aren’t bad for you, so I was getting nutrients. I also felt pretty healthy. I was exercising often and toned up nicely.
I’m telling you this, because I know how hard it is to make these changes in your life. You have to want it, and you have to know exactly what it is that you want to gain from it. I’m huge on honesty, and I recommend extreme, bold honesty with your situation and yourself. After you get past that, creating a healthy food budget is all about setting attainable goals and crushing them.