The idea that healthy eating always involves ‘breaking the bank’ is rampant but not true.  The mindset that nutritious foods have to be expensive, has led to many people not opting for a healthy lifestyle.

But really, a healthy lifestyle can fit into your budget, no matter how low it is. Even now when inflation is almost at its peak, through adequate nutrition knowledge, you can make informed choices when shopping for foods.

Here are 5 ways you can eat healthy on a budget:

1. PLAN YOUR MEALS: If you really want to save and spend lesser, it is important that you plan and write out your grocery list before going to the market. Write out how much you intend to spend on all food groups, for instance, write out the amount you want to spend on fruits, vegetables, meats, whole grains, etc. and stick to it. Create a little time once a week to plan your menu for the upcoming week, check your fridge or pantry to see if still have leftovers of some ingredients, and write out what you actually need.

2. COOK IN LARGE PORTIONS/ BATCHES AND RE-USE LEFTOVERS: when you are on a budget, it is advisable to buy ingredients in bulk and cook in large portions. Cooking in batches or large portions and refrigerating (if you have a constant power supply) can save time and money.  Leftover foods can also be revisited. For example, your leftover stew can be used to stirfry veggies or pasta.  When you also have food and soups stored in the refrigerator, it can reduce the amount of money you spend eating or dining out.

3. YOU DON’T NEED THE EXTRAS: When many people hear “healthy eating”, they expect to see out-of-the-box foods like bulgur wheat, couscous, acha, basmati rice, cauliflower rice, etc. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to swap your local foods for imported foods. Our local foods are healthy! Your ugwu and other local vegetables can easily replace broccoli, your local brown rice is a healthy swap for basmati/cauliflower rice/ couscous, and your spaghetti can be paired with local vegetable soups! Sometimes, all you need is nutritional knowledge to set you free! (our dietitians can help you with this). Choose and cook easily accessible foods, fill up your plates with enough local vegetables and choose affordable protein sources and you’re good to go!

4. EAT FRUITS IN SEASON: Fruits in season are always less expensive than fruits out of season or imported foods. It is also okay to eat two types of fruits repeatedly if that is what is in season or what you can afford.  This is better than not eating any type of fruit for weeks! So leave the apples if they are expensive and go for oranges and watermelon, these are also healthy and are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.

5. EXPLORE PLANT-BASED PROTEINS! We all know that animal protein sources such as beef, chicken, turkey, and fish are costly, so it’s time to start eating plant-based protein food sources such as beans, nuts, green peas, soybeans, chia seeds, wheat, and millet. You can decide to replace animal protein with plant protein in one or two meals of the day to reduce your budget on fish and meat.

Eating healthy on a budget is very possible and attainable, you just need to be intentional, informed, and plan ahead. You don’t need to break the bank!

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Why is it so Hard to Lose Weight? by Osunsanya Olajumoke RDN, MPH