Over the past few years, I have changed the way I do some things in my cooking and around my home. Many of them I actually started as a way to save money while going through two seasons of my husbands unemployment. I was ecstatic when I found out that I was actually making some healthier choices too! I’m still learning what a healthier lifestyle looks like for me, my home and my family, but I have been pleasantly surprised that it is possible to live healthier and actually save money!
Simple Tips for Living Healthier on a Budget
1. Make meals from scratch as much as possible. I started making from scratch when I realized that buying ingredients can actually be cheaper than buying pre-made. This does not mean that I never go out to eat or that I make every single thing from scratch. It simply means that I do my best to make from scratch when I can. Plus there’s the added benefit of knowing exactly what is in my food.
2. Start replacing artificial ingredients and processed foods. This goes along with making from scratch, but even scratch made foods can have these kind of ingredients in them. I am learning that artificial and processed ingredients are much less healthy than their more natural counterparts.
However, I decided not to try to replace everything all at once. Instead, I am slowly changing a few things at a time. I want this to be a permanent change in lifestyle not just some fad that I keep up with for a few months then go back to my old ways.
Pick one or two things and start there. Here’s two things I have changed recently:
- I ditched store-bought coffee creamer. Most mornings I make my vanilla au lait. Want more money-saving coffee ideas? Check out my post on how to make coffee-house quality coffee at home.
- I am also using more butter and coconut oil in my cooking to replace unhealthy and artificial fats or oils.
3. Buy more fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce is an important part of a healthy diet. I know it seems like it costs a lot compared to so many other processed junk foods but think of how much more nutrient rich and more filling it is. So instead of reaching for a bag of greasy chips that will leave you hungry and lethargic in an hour, grab an apple and get some fiber too!
You can also help preserve the freshness by freezing anything you won’t eat right away. Then use the frozen fruit in smoothies and the vegetables in soups, stews or other cooked dishes. My main tip for saving on produce is to buy in season and on sale.
Non organic produce is also likely grown with lots of pesticides in it so buy organic if you can. When choosing produce, compare prices. Oftentimes the organic is actually a lot closer in price than you would think. I recently bought a bag of organic apples for just a few cents more than non-organic and I noticed the organic grapes did not cost much more either. Use this dirty dozen list from the Environmental Working Group as a place to start. The dirty dozen is the most likely to contain pesticides so try to get those organic if it fits in your budget.
4. Make your own household cleaners. Some cleaners I make include laundry soap and all-purpose cleaner, both are simple, effective and inexpensive. Many of the ingredients in homemade cleaners are also less harsh and much cheaper, especially if you buy a large enough quantity that will last a while. Some common cleaning ingredients are vinegar, baking soda, borax and washing soda.
5. Switch out disposable products for re-usable ones. This is a no brainer as far as savings goes. You only have to buy or make what you need once and keep re-using it. It might be a bit of an investment in the beginning, but think of all that you save in the long run. Some ideas would be to use cloth napkins, rags for cleaning, re-usable containers or bags instead of sandwich bags and cloth diapers if you have a baby.
One of the first disposable things I switched out were dish sponges. Not only did they start to smell disgusting after a few washes, but they started to disintegrate too. So I started using crocheted dish cloths instead. I have four or five that I switch between and wash them with my towels in the laundry. If you don’t know how to crochet, a dishcloth is one of the easiest things to start with if you want to learn. Otherwise, I’m sure you can find someone willing to make you one. My sister gave my first couple before I learned to make my own.
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Resources that have helped me
As far as learning to live on a strict budget, there were three books that helped me the most; Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget and Americas Cheapest Family Get’s You Right on the Money. These three books helped me to evaluate what areas I could cut my spending even when I didn’t think there was any way to cut back. For more about how these books have helped me, check out my post about my top three money management book recommendations.
When it comes to healthy food, one book that changed my perspective on how I eat was Real Food for the Real Homemaker by Jami Balmet, Elsie Callender and Jaime Ramsey. I had already been doing many of the things I mentioned above, but reading this book helped push me to think seriously about what a real food diet looked like for me. I love that the information is straightforward and easy to follow but also filled with grace. I’ve often felt guilty or pressured by so-called health advice but this book made me feel empowered to make wiser choices.
Real Food on a Budget by Stephanie Langford is another great book for learning to eat well and not break the bank. I’ve just started reading it and I’m excited about all the book has to offer. In the book, Stephanie addresses budgeting, meal planning, cooking from scratch, buying in bulk and much more. Here’s a great quote from the book:
If you have ever wished there was a comprehensive resource to help you on your way to healthy living but not cost your hundreds of dollars, I have some good news. The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle (<–SALE IS NOW OVER) is available this week and it’s only $29.97! I know I’ve mentioned it often, but it’s only because I know how helpful it has already been for me and I don’t want you to miss out.
**The Healthy Living Bundle sale is now over**
The bundle is packed with resources that will be especially helpful if you want to jump-start your way to a healthier lifestyle. The two books mentioned above are also a part of the bundle! Another awesome part of the bundle that would be perfect for anyone wanting to learn more about healthy living, is the online conference called coffee table conversations where you’ll get to be a part of 12 sessions on topics like eating well on a tight budget, real food for beginners and greening your household. I honestly think I might be the most excited about this part of the bundle!
My one piece of advice to you if you want to make some of these changes too, is that you start small. Pick one thing and work on that. If you are not sure where to start, think about what might be the most beneficial for you. It might be something simple like switching out soda with water or eating healthy snacks instead of junk food. You don’t have to do it all at once. In fact you can’t do it all and if you try to, you are inevitably setting yourself up for failure. However, making one or two changes at a time will help you stick to it long-term and you will be glad you did!
Here’s to learning to live healthier!
What other tips do you have to living healthier on a budget?
What is one thing you have done to try and make your life healthier?