By Sarah Smith
I love buying organic food; what I don’t love is how I can blow an entire paycheck without filling up one reusable grocery bag.
Well, enough is enough! Nutritious meals and inexpensive meals don’t have to be mutually exclusive! Fear not, health food addicts — all you need to do is arm yourself with these 6 quick-and-dirty tips for preparing healthy and cheap dishes and you’ll be sparing your wallet and waistline in no time:
- Cook, cook, cook! As much as it pains me to admit it, cooking is (usually) healthier and cheaper than take-out or microwave meals. Should cooking regularly, especially for one, seem more like a chore than a luxury, you should…
- Learn to love leftovers. Prepare meals that can be re-imagined the following day to save time, calories and cash. Consider this: Monday’s wild rice pilaf could be delicious in a whole wheat tortilla with some black beans and cheddar cheese on Tuesday. I use my Sunday evenings to cook up a few dishes that will get me through the rest of the week. (These pre-made meals also double as cheap brown-bag lunch options.)
- Make meals with 5 ingredients or less. I don’t know about you, but I hate buying a cabinet’s worth of unusual ingredients just for a teaspoon of this and a cup of that. Luckily, it turns out there are numerous cookbooks devoted to meals made with 5 ingredients or less. Not in the market for a new book? Try Vegetarian Times' online recipe database, which gives you the option to search for recipes made with only 5 ingredients.
- Frequent your local Farmer’s Market. By buying produce at a farmer’s market, you’re not only supporting local business, but you’re probably also getting a great deal on wholesome, organic ingredients. Keep in mind what foods are in season and you’ll save yourself a pretty penny and add variety to your diet.
- Eat like a vegetarian. MSN’s Money Central has a great article about why cutting down on meat can cut down your credit card bill. For instance, did you know that “plant proteins [are] cheaper than the equivalent amount of animal protein”? Try supporting Meatless Mondays, the international campaign that asks people to “reduce meat consumption by 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.” With all of the vegetarian recipes and resources out there, you’ll be able to make the one-day-a-week switch with ease.
- Have some fun with it! Whether you pretend you’re an Iron Chef or challenge yourself with a $40 a week budget, there are plenty of ways to turn your costly cooking conundrums into delicious dinners on a dime.
Sarah Smith is a recent graduate whose work has appeared in Pasadena Magazine, Vegetarian Times, California Garden, BOP, Tiger Beat and various other publications.