12 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

They say healthy eating costs. We say, not necessarily. Here are some smart hacks. By Annie Nisce

It’s a misconception that losing weight costs money. Sure, there are diet trends that are expensive. But you don’t really have to subscribe to those in order to lose weight. With careful thought, patience, discipline, and foresight, you can get slimmer healthily following these tips from Pursuit of Passion:

1. From breakfast to dinner, make the food pyramid your healthy bestie.

Or as the DOH’s Pinggang Pinoy illustrates, a healthy food plate for Filipino adults is made up of 25 percent carbs to make you GO, 25 percent protein to GROW, and 50 percent fruits and vegetables for the GLOW. That means you need to fill your plate with carbohydrates (rice, bread, potatoes), protein (fish and chicken), and fruits and vegetables.

Go heavy on breakfast. Bulk it up with whole grain, like brown rice, for the fiber. Whole grain is filling, so you won’t get hungry that easily.

2. Plan and prep meals for the week. Set aside one day a week for this. Check what’s inside the fridge and cupboard and make up a grocery list. To avoid waste, plan your purchases around what you still have. Then spend the rest of that day cooking and packing the dishes in single- or double-serve containers. All you have to do during the week is heat them. Your meticulous preparation will ensure that you will be eating healthy during the week without having to resort to expensive take-out.


3. Stick to your grocery list. Buy only what you will use. Your first stop: the peripheries of the supermarket, where whole food—the good stuff—is located. Fill up your cart and try to avoid the center aisles, where the processed and unhealthy items are usually placed. And don’t shop when you’re hungry, as this leads to impulse buying.

grocery list

4. Junk the junk. Junk food is surprisingly costly and, in the long run, harmful to your health. You’ll end up spending much more on medicine and doctor’s fees if you don’t watch out. Besides, junk food adds on the pounds.

5. Buy staples in bulk. Rice, pasta, flour, rolled oats, spices, baking powder, salt, pepper, spices, onions, garlic, and the like are cheaper when bought in bulk. These have a longer shelf life and always come in handy for whipping up quick meals.

ALSO READ: Meet Adlai, the Healthier Alternative to Rice

6. Go for local fruit and vegetables that are in season. Remember the GLOW part of your plate? Here it is. Local produce is usually cheaper. Buy them by the bag, and not per piece. Freeze them so that they last longer.

7. Get creative with cheaper cuts and substitutes. Can’t do without meat and poultry? Buy more of the cheaper cuts, like pork shoulder or chicken thighs. “Stretch” your supply by eating less of it. Try other protein substitutes, like fish, legumes, egg, or tofu. Meat doesn’t always have to be the star of the show. Make it a condiment for mostly vegetable dishes, like soups, wraps, or stir-fries.

8. Cook at home. Besides knowing exactly what’s in your food—and substituting unhealthy ingredients with healthier options—you end up saving a lot. Think: what you pay for a meal for two at a decent restaurant can already feed a family of four! Or how the cost of that restaurant meal for two can probably cover some home-cooked meals for a couple of days.

9. Pack your meals. If you cook in large portions, you can turn leftovers into delicious packed meals, like sandwiches and wraps, for school or work. Packing your own meals helps maintain your healthy regimen as well as cuts down on expenses of dining out.

10. Go to the market. Wet markets (and weekend markets, if you know where to go) offer steals! Find a “suki” who can give you a friendly discount, plus some “extras” or do your shopping at closing time, when vendors are most likely to drop their prices just to dispose of their goods for the day.

ALSO READ: 5 Quick and Easy Recipes from Breakfast to Dinner

11. Shop online. Register with reputable online retailers of healthy food, such as Good Food Community. Some of these online shops offer daily discounts and even free delivery within Metro Manila.

12. Sing it: Bahay Kubo. The beloved childhood tune is actually a guide to good eating, featuring lots of healthy eats. If you can, plant a few herbs, chilies, and leafy greens (kangkong and malunggay are easy to grow) in pots at home. Seeds and cuttings can be dirt-cheap. In time, you can boast of meals “fresh off the backyard.” Besides, gardening is therapeutic and makes for a good physical workout.

Given a little thought and effort, and a quick lifestyle check, you come to realize the wisdom of this saying: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Congratulations! You’re on the road towards a happier, healthier you.