Healthy eating is often associated with spending more money. It’s true that eating healthily can be expensive, however, there are many ways to eat nutritious foods that your body – and wallet – will thank you for. These 4 tips will help you stay on track with your health goals and your budget.

Plan your meals and create a grocery list

Planning is essential when it comes to saving money at the grocery store. A detailed plan also means the food you buy won’t end up going to waste. Use your weekend to craft a menu for the week and let that be the guide for your grocery list. Don’t buy anything unnecessary – scan your fridge and cabinets to see what you really need before heading out. If a recipe calls for an ingredient that you know you won’t be able to use up, research alternatives which can be substituted into a wide variety of meals. Always check what’s in season and plan your meals around these fruits and veg so you won’t need to fork out any extra cash for out-of-season produce.

Fuller for longer 

You don’t have to starve yourself to save money. Whole grain and low GI foods can give you more bang for your buck by keeping you fuller for longer. Whole grains are full of fiber, which keeps the digestive system healthy, and they’ll help you feel full as they expand in your stomach. Whole grain foods also contain more iron, vitamin B and other nutrients, absent in refined grains. Refer to the table below for refined grains that can easily be swapped out for healthier whole grains

Get creative with leftovers

Preparing three meals a day, seven days a week can be time consuming as well as expensive. Cooking larger meals has a lower cost per meal and leftovers are perfect for lunch the following day. Also consider creating a new meal from leftovers – leftover sweet potato mash can be used to create a cottage pie by just adding mince.

Another option is to make a big pot of soup or curry, freeze the leftovers in single-portion sizes and defrost whenever you don’t feel like cooking. This will also give you the opportunity to buy in bulk and save.

Try less expensive foods 

While there are expensive healthy foods, there are lots of less expensive alternatives to consider. By tweaking a recipe and trying new, less expensive ingredients, you can prepare many delicious and wallet-friendly meals. Protein is a great ingredient to substitute in your meals. The annual meat price increases are 2% higher than the price increases of grains on average. Therefore, the most effective way to implement this strategy will be to replace your meat source with a plant-based protein.  Start with one or two meatless meals a week by using other protein sources, such as beans, lentils, chickpeas and eggs.

Try to implement these tips for a month and compare your grocery expenses to that of the previous months to see if you are still within your budget. You’ll find that healthy eating can not only be good for your body, but also for your bank account.