One of the biggest concerns we hear is that people are afraid that they cannot afford the healthy foods required to improve their diet and manage their diabetes properly.
Yes, at first glance it may seem that healthy produce is more expensive than unhealthy packaged foods. However, there are several shortcuts you can take advantage of for getting all the healthy food you need for even less than you are paying for groceries now!
Read the tips below to find out how you can create delicious diabetic-friendly recipes on a budget.
1. Buy What’s in Season
Fruits and vegetables are always cheaper when they are in season, so arrange your weekly meal plan accordingly.
In the summer time there is always a bounty of beautiful and fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s easier to eat healthy in the summer because there are so many options that are affordable and readily available. In the summer, choose fresh melons and berries, and vegetables such as lettuce, green beans, and zucchini.
In the fall, think green. Cooler seasons are always full of healthy, dark colored vegetables. These include: eggplant, spinach, kale, cabbage, and leafy greens.
If you live in a climate where you experience cold winters, you will find it very hard to access fresh and affordable produce at this time. During the cold weather, look for weekly sales on produce, and stock up on green lettuces. For the rest of your produce, sometimes it is better to buy frozen, not only for the price but also for a better quality product.
2. Buy Local
This goes along with buying what is in season; whatever is grown closer to your home will be cheaper because farms often have over abundance. Plus, you don’t have to pay for the grocery store’s shipping costs.
When you buy local, such as a local farm stand or farmer’s market, not only are you supporting the community, but you are also getting the freshest produce that the market has to offer!
Buying local meats and eggs can also help to save money while allowing you to get the highest quality products. If your family loves meat and you have the room in your freezer, try visiting a local farm where you can save money by buying a large portion of an animal.
3. Buy Frozen
When items are not in season, it is often much more affordable to buy them frozen. For example, in the winter fresh vegetables such as broccoli and green beans will likely be twice or three times the price of a farm stand in the summer, and they may even be limp or lackluster.
Instead, you can get delicious, frozen versions of these vegetables for 50-75% less then the fresh versions, and they are typically frozen the day they are picked, meaning they are still packed with nutrients. Fruit can also often be purchased frozen at a lower price then fresh.
Buying frozen gives you access to your favorite fruits and vegetables all year round and allows you to stock up so that you always have them on hand.
Buying frozen also means no waste because you can use exactly the portion that you need and then place the rest of the bag back in the freezer.
4. Buy in Bulk
One thing you have likely noticed is that different items go on sale each week at the grocery store, and it can sometimes be weeks or even months before they go on sale again.
Determine what your staple items are (what you eat on a regular basis) and buy enough to last you a few months when they go on sale.
For example, when frozen vegetables are on sale, buy 10 or more bags. This allows you to keep what you need on hand at a discount price.
Another thing to buy in bulk is your favorite grains. I suggest going to a discount grocery store and stocking up on brown rice, for example. Many discount stores offer rice in very large, almost restaurant-sized bags at an excellent per-pound price. Stocking up on your favorite whole grain rice means you don’t have to worry about shopping for them for months or even a year.
You can often save money by buying meats in bulk, too. For example, you can buy a large pack of chicken breast and wrap breasts individually to store safely in the freezer. If you don’t have a lot of space in your freezer, try buying enough for even just one or two weeks and you should see that you will still save money.
Many popular shows have come out in the past few years which have made couponing very popular. You can find coupons in the local papers and online. Match coupons with weekly sales for extra savings and great stock-up prices.
There are rarely coupons for meat and fresh produce, but you can often find coupons for frozen vegetables and diabetic-friendly pantry staples such as rice, whole grain breads, Jell-O, and canned soups and vegetables (remember, always buy low-sodium canned goods!)
Couponing may take a little bit of effort, but it can make a huge difference in your weekly bills and allow you to eat healthy foods at a very affordable price.
6. Buy Inexpensive Proteins
Opting to eat a few vegetarian meals per week can save you a lot of money on your weekly grocery bill. When cooking vegetarian meals, be sure to add in a protein like beans or tofu.
Stock up on dried beans; they stay fresh for years and are incredibly affordable. (One pound of dried beans can make multiple meals and costs under $2!) Pick out different types of dried beans to keep it interesting, like black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.
In addition, for the days when you don’t have time to soak and cook dried beans, stock up on low-sodium canned beans when they go on sale. Canned beans can be made in minutes, are filled with protein and fiber, and are delicious and satisfying.
When it comes to meat and dairy, there are a few foods that you can enjoy to keep costs down. Eggs are full of protein, low in carbs and calories and full of nutrients. Enjoy eggs for breakfasts, boiled for snacks, and chopped in salads.
Stock up on white meat tuna packed in water. Tuna can be used to make a five-minute meal that is filling and packed with protein.
All of these ingredients are wonderful ways to stick to a healthy and delicious low-carb diet on a very strict budget.
7. Plan Ahead
Meal planning and prepping can make a major difference in your week in terms of the time, money and stress you save when it comes to eating. Making a large batch of food cuts down on waste because it allows you use up all of the ingredients you bought.
There are many ways you can make great use of batch cooking:
- Make a large batch for dinner and enjoy the leftovers the next day for a hearty lunch
- Make a large batch for dinner and eat it for two dinners in a row
- Make a large batch and freeze leftovers to enjoy on days when you don’t have time to cook
Eating healthy on a budget is all about planning ahead and making the most out of the food you have. The seven tips above are great ways to great ways to keep your blood sugar levels in check by eating healthier meals, all while potentially spending less than you already do on food.
Don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen! Use ingredients you have on-hand, and don’t worry when you don’t have every ingredient in a recipe.
In the comments, let us know which tips you will implement into your grocery routine in order to eat better so you can improve your diabetes symptoms!
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Hi I’m Kyle Jensen the Wellness Coach at Smart Diabetes Solutions. Through poor eating habits and an inactive lifestyle I put myself in a bad state both physically and mentally. After years of retraining my mind and body I decided to take my newfound understanding of health and help others in their journey. I remember the struggle and how many times I almost gave up. Now I want to help others who are overweight or have Diabetes live a happier more healthy life.