How to Eat Healthy on a Budget While Job Searching [Infographic]
When your job hunt drags on for months, your funds start to dry up. Those 99 cent ramen noodles start to look appealing. I had to be creative with my food when I didn’t have any money. Here are some inexpensive ways to eat healthy while on a tight budget:
Make Friends with Your Freezer
Often, I’d make a big pot of food then freeze half to save for later. The food tastes just as good after you defrost it. Freezing it also ensures your food won’t go bad.
When I visit family for Thanksgiving, I usually put leftovers in the freezer and bring them home. They stay frozen for the 4-8 hour travel time. I eat good and healthy for weeks after that.
In order to save money, I make big servings to have a quick, healthy meal for a week or two, maybe longer if I freeze part of it. Also, my bread is usually 2 for $5, so I buy two and freeze one.
Find the Right Grocery Store
Find a grocery store that has good prices. You may have a store in mind. If not, you’ll need to do some Googling, ask some friends. My local store has family size frozen meat for $4. That pack could last me a week, maybe a week and a half. Trader Joe’s has some good prices and healthy food. The lines are a bit intense but they move fast.
Also, outdoor (or indoor) markets have good prices on food. In general, I’d say stay away from big chain grocery stores. They may be convenient because they have everything you need. They also make you pay for that. At my local store, I can get three bags of groceries for $30. The same amount from a larger store could cost twice that. Some places, like Trader Joe’s and Costco are the exception. Do your research. Aldi seems to be a good place to shop.
Look Out for Sales
I walked into my grocery store one Friday and it seemed like everything was on sale. It was amazing. Pay attention to when your favorite foods go on sale.
Try MyGroceryDeals. I searched for tomatoes in my zip-code and they gave me the sales in my area and when they’ll end.
Think I just found a new addiction. Just saw that Dunkin Donuts Chocolate Coffee Grounds is on sale for $6.99. It’s usually about $10.
I discovered the magic of salads while broke. If you go to the right store, you can get good ingredients for cheap. Depending on what you put in your salad, one good bowl could be filling.
A friend of mine started making vegetable soup. She’d simply buy vegetables, throw them in a big pot of water, season and boil. It’s super easy, delicious and it can last for about a week. For seasoning, all you really need is bouillon, which doesn’t cost a lot. If you want to get fancy, Trader Joe’s has good seasoning for cheap. You could also go off-brand. When I was really struggling, I’d boiling some bullion in water and add cooked noodles. Tastes great and it’s really easy.
Get a Store Customer Card
It took me awhile to get a customer card at my local store. Don’t know why I waited. If you have a store card, you get discounts on certain foods. You might’ve seen tags like “$2.99 for members(cardholders) only.” These cards are usually free. You just need to fill out an application in the store.
Prepare Your Own Food
The pre-cooked meals that you buy at the grocery store can be expensive and they don’t last long. They’re also usually packed with sodium. Try making your own food even if it means sandwiches. Cookie Butter spread from Trader’s Joe made me fall in love with Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches again. Most of the time, my meal was meat and cheese on a toasted roll. You can buy different meats, cheese and spreads.
Also, think about buying a drip coffee pot and brewing your own coffee. You’d save a lot of money. Buy a water pitcher with a filter. When I know I’m going to be out all day, I’d pour some filtered water into a bottle and carry that with me. This way I don’t have to buy a drink when I get thirsty. It also forces me to drink more water. My thinking usually is, “I want juice, but I don’t need it. I have water on me.”
Make Fruit Juices
Every other Saturday, I used to get $20 out of my account and go up the street to buy about 10 oranges, maybe a mango, a pack of blueberries and strawberries and have money left over for paper goods–paper towels and toilet tissues. I’d buy so much fruit because I’d make juices. If you’re able to find inexpensive fruits, consider investing in a juicer and make your own fruit juices. It’s healthy and filling.
There are several drawbacks, though. Making these juices takes a lot of time. There’s cutting the fruit, putting them through the juicer and then the cleanup. You have to take the machine apart to clean everything. Also, it takes a lot of fruit to make one glass of juice. It’s worth it, though. The juices are delicious. I usually mix oranges with something else like apples or strawberries.
How do you stay healthy while on a tight budget?