Leading a healthy lifestyle is definitely easier said than done, especially when your life is busy enough with working full-time, raising a family, or going to school. Not only is it hard to find the time to eat healthily for every meal, grocery shopping at Whole Foods or any another health food store can be pretty pricey. But eating good-for-you foods on a budget doesn’t have to be such a struggle. Ultimately what it comes down to is making the time to prepare meals at home, choosing the right ingredients, and making a few creative substitutions to some of your favourite dishes.
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it gives you the energy and focus you need to start your day off right. However, that’s only true if you eat the right breakfast. If you pop into McDonalds for a Bacon n’ Egg McMuffin, a hash brown, and a medium sized orange juice, you may think you are doing the smart thing by not skipping breakfast, but in fact you’ve just paid $5 to consume 670 calories and 40% of your daily value of fat all before noon! Instead, choose to eat “whole grains and lean proteins” as suggested by LiveStrong.com, such as a multi-grain bagel with low-fat cream cheese, turkey bacon, oatmeal, yogurt, or a bowl of unsweetened whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk. If you can’t live without your morning caffeine fix, make sure to make it at home or drink the free stuff at work to save on cash, and try to avoid any fatty creams and sugars to lessen the calorie count.
Bringing your lunch from home is a great way to save money, but to ensure you are getting the proper nutrients in your meal, steer clear of sugary foods as they are responsible for that dreaded 3 o’clock slump. What you should be eating are complex carbohydrates and protein, as noted by Woman’s Day, because they take your body longer to digest and thus keep you full for longer. For some ideas on what to pack for your next lunch, check out my post about cheap and healthy lunch ideas.
You may think that dinner should be the biggest meal of the day, but it should actually be the same size as your lunch, approximately 500 calories. A healthy dinner should consist of foods high in “fiber and protein as well as some healthy fat” as mentioned by Self. Why dinner is so important is because the food you eat is used to maintain your body throughout the evening and during sleep, so whipping up some Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti Squash or a few Low-Fat Turkey Wraps might be just what your body needs. If you have a few favourite comfort food recipes you refuse to give up, you can still make them as long as the ingredients you use are wholegrain, low-fat, lean, or reduced sodium, and cutting back on any condiments and toppings will help too.
Indulging in a bit of dessert may be good for your soul but it can be dangerous for your waistline. Then again there are ways to have your cake and eat it to. All you need to do is cut out some of the bad stuff, like heavy cream, butter, eggs, and bleached flour. For instance, take this low-calorie brownie recipe that substitutes eggs and butter for honey, applesauce, and olive oil. It only costs $7 to make and is 86 calories per serving. If you are craving something a bit more seasonal, why not try this recipe for healthy pumpkin pie. Using coconut oil, almond milk, and maple syrup instead of eggs, butter, sugar and milk, you can probably eat the whole pie without feeling an ounce of guilt.
Bargainmoosers, what do you do to ensure your meals are healthy without blowing your budget?
(Image credit: SweetOnVeg)