It's not always cost-effective to eat healthy. This is no revelation by any means, and in fact, it's a problem for most people who can't afford to spend money on organic meat, let alone superfoods and $10 smoothies. That being said, eating healthy on a budget is possible, even if you have to get creative, save where it counts, and have particular nutritional guidelines you want to follow. According to a vegan influencer who, to say the least, knows a thing or two about food, sticking to a healthy diet on a budget isn't nearly as hard as it might seem — and no, you don't have to p*ss off your taste buds just to save a few bucks on groceries.
Yovana Mendoza, who you might know as @rawvana on Instagram, is a vegan fitness influencer with more than 1 million followers who shares her tips for healthy living through social media posts and YouTube videos. In an interview with Elite Daily, she reveals some of the easiest guidelines to follow when it comes to eating healthy on a budget — but TBH, you might not like her first tip that much.
According to Mendoza, one of the most effective ways to eat healthier without breaking the bank is to meal-prep.
Meal-prepping is the kind of thing you always hear people raving about, that'll make you say, "I know, I know, I know I should be doing that!" But it's also the kind of thing you don't believe really works until you actually try it yourself. Well, according to Mendoza, it's worth giving meal-prepping a shot if you're trying to balance healthy eating habits with a stable savings account. "Plan and prep meals ahead," she tells Elite Daily, "and keep an organized fridge and pantry." When everything is organized and your kitchen is consistently stocked with the basics, Mendoza says, it makes things a whole lot easier when you're figuring out what to eat for your next meal. In other words, you'll be much less likely to think, "Screw it, I'm ordering Seamless."
But what exactly should your kitchen be stocked with? According to Mendoza, there are eight ingredients you should always have lying around in your pantry or fridge: bananas, watermelon, carrots, an onion, lettuce, beans, some grains such as rice, and perhaps most importantly, produce that is in-season — in fact, Mendoza's insistent on that last one. She tells Elite Daily she always makes sure to buy fruits and veggies when they're in-season, not just because they'll be fresher and tastier, but also because it's cheaper to buy them that way.
And you know those mysterious bulk bins you always walk by at the grocery store? Mendoza definitely recommends getting acquainted with them, because apparently, that's where the great deals are, not to mention the stuff that lasts. Specifically, the influencer tells Elite Daily, when you're shopping for grains like quinoa or oats, or legumes like beans, always buy them in bulk for cheaper, long-lasting, easy-to-make meals.
So does eating healthy on a budget mean never eating out? And how realistic is that for those of us who are always on-the-go?
Look, you're only human, and if I had to guess, you probably feel like you barely even have time to microwave leftovers, let alone prepare a full, home-cooked meal every single night — and seriously, you don't have to. According to Mendoza, the best way to go about this is to try your best to stick to home-cooked meals during the week, and to cut yourself some slack on weekends. Again, this is where the meal-prepping thing can make a huge difference.
And BTW, don't beat yourself up if you cave one day and order take-out during the week. Eating healthy on a budget is no small feat, and it's not realistic to assume you'll be "perfect" at it day in and day out. You're trying your best, and that always counts for something.