How to plan healthy meals on a tight budget, is a huge challenge. Even, more so, when you are dedicated to eating healthy. To help out on the challenges, I have gathered these tips on how to plan healthy and nutritious meals. This would be very helpful when you are on a very tight budget. With these points, you wouldn’t need to break the bank to eat healthily.
1. Buy fresh produce when in season and freeze it
When tomatoes are in season, buy enough and freeze them. Like other vegetables, when you get a good deal buy them and store in a good freezer. Yes, fresh produce is always nice, but on a tight budget, this seems a better idea for almost the same benefit. You can also process the vegetables and store in the freezer. For example, make a puree out of tomatoes, bag them and store in the freezer. You can buy maize, then process to dough and freeze. Same for cassava and in the future, they will make your “banku”. That is what I do.
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2. Plan your meals on what is currently abundant and at low cost
Various food commodities come cheap when they in abundance. When garden eggs are abundance, think of meals with garden eggs. There are a variety of meals that you can prepare with garden eggs and many other vegetables. The point is, if you plan your meals on what is in season, you realize that tight budget can really get you a very healthy meal. You may look out for the seasons for the fruits, vegetables, plantain, cassava, cocoyam etc. There a number of healthy meals you can prepare from maize. Take advantage when it is cheap on the market and prepare your meals with maize.
3. Go for less expensive cuts of meat
You can still plan healthy meals and really enjoy them on a tight budget. Chicken wings are less expensive than the thighs and so are the thighs less costly than the breast. Try using different cooking methods, to vary the tastes. Go for the wings. Use them in soups or stews. Also, you may grill, all are healthy methods. You wouldn’t need to sacrifice your meat on a tight budget.
4. Target whole grains and beans
Example of whole grain is brown rice (unpolished) and together with beans (cowpea), they make “waakye, a local delicacy. Though, on a tight budget, you can make one of the most wanted dishes like gari and beans with your riped plantain. Substitute your meat with beans when meat does not fit your budget. Beans are an excellent source of protein and a very good replacement for meat.
Read also: 10 Important keys to good Cowpea cultivation
5. Plan and prepare your meals in advance
Planning meals ahead of time will be to your advantage. Why do I say so?. It gives you time to really assess your options. Besides, it helps to make good use of what is in the fridge or what has been stored for some time. This minimizes waste. Spend the weekend planning for your meals for the week. Make good use of leftovers. Use the vegetables in the fridge and prepare two different kinds of stews for the week. Combine with rice, yam, “banku”, gari, etc. It saves you time too.
6. Enhance your cooking skill
Try your hands on easy to go dishes. Learn to combine cheap but nutritious ingredient in meals. By doing so, you are expanding your variety and choices of meals. You can combine beans with gari or make “eba” with beans or rice with beans or yam with beans stew and so on. It is always economical when you can make use of everyday cheap ingredients to prepare a variety of healthy meals. Leftovers could also be put to good use by turning them into, in combination with other, into a different meal altogether.
7. Organize your fridge and pantry.
This is not done by many, but trust me, it has really helped me. That is, labelling my leftovers and other stuff and packing them orderly in the fridge. Always package foods in the amounts that you will use. To prevent food items getting lost in the fridge, well organize them. They can be lost beneath other items or get to the back of the fridge. Another article suggests that you keep a list of items with dates, in the fridge. A bit of a job, but that would be a pretty good idea and very helpful in keeping an organized fridge. Remember to also take regular inventory of the stock in your fridge or pantry so you can plan your meals accordingly. This is very helpful in the pocket.
8. Turn leftovers into different meals
You can use leftovers from tomatoes stew or gravy to make jollof rice. Leftovers of palm soup and groundnut soup could be combined to give a fresh taste and flavour of a new soup. “Kenkey” from yesterday’s leftovers, you can easily mash and add groundnuts or milk, refrigerate into iced kenkey. The principle is to make something nice out of leftovers and not waste them. You may not like to eat the same food over and over. So you consider making something new with the stuff at hand.
Read also: How to Prevent Food Poisoning
9. Grow your own food
You want to be sure, the produce is healthy, then produce it yourself. If you have the time, plant a garden with tomatoes, cocoyam, pepper, plantain, leafy vegetables, etc. This saves money. By planting a garden you can have your constant supply of vegetables and other foodstuffs.
Read also: 6 key importance of Backyard Gardens
10. Consider Carrying your food along with you
It is very expensive to eat out and sometimes not healthy. Take your food along. That is very less expensive and healthier than eating out. Get yourself a food flask, to keep your food warm for long and take your rice and stew to work. Your healthy lunch is taken care of. You can turn leftovers into some really good meals. Take them with you as your lunch.
The tips to Plan Healthy Meals are not exhaustive. Feel free to add what you have been practicing by commenting. We will update this post with your additions.
Post inspiration: 10 Smart Reader Tips for Eating Well on a Tight Budget (www.thekitchn.com)