Eating healthy should not feel like a chore for you. For me personally I love cooking and it allows me to try new foods and recipes without breaking the bank.

Make eating healthy a priority

In most cases, people are just too lazy or stubborn to make changes to their diet, and don’t feel like putting the necessary effort in. After all, it’s certainly easier to roll up to a McDonalds and say “I’ll take everything on the eurosaver menu” or place an order for Pizza Hut while playing Xbox at home.

I can tell you til I’m blue in the face that your diet will be 80-90% of your success or failure when it comes to weight loss and healthy living. That no amount of exercise can undo a poor diet, and that changing even a few small habits can cause drastic changes. Look at it this way wouldnt you love to be spending a little bit more money up front now on healthier food can save you hundreds or thousands of euros in health care savings over the remainder of your life.

Cleaning up your diet can add years to your life, remove inches from your waistline, make you sleep better, feel better, look better, and live better.

However, unless you have that desire to level up your life, making the decision to eat healthy will be an constant uphill battle.

So first and foremost: make a commitment to start eating better, and back it up with a damn good reason, i.e your health. Whether you’re doing it for you, your family, to win a weight loss competition at work, whatever, JUST DO IT.

You’re going to need to give up some things you don’t think you can live without (SPOILER ALERT – you can). You’re going to need to learn how to cook a few basic meals instead of ordering pizza every afternoon. You’ll probably be eating a lot of the same things on a regular basis. You might even need to make an investment in some Lunch Boxes and Shakers for your pre-workout and post-workout drinks.

However, once you’ve made the commitment to healthier eating, all of these decisions get much easier to make and eventually can become habit.

Cut out the rubbish food

If you’re on a tight budget and “can’t afford healthy food,” do you buy coffee every morning to get you through the work day? How many cans of Monster or Red Bull do you go through in the afternoon? How often do you visit the vending machine for a bag of Doritos because lunch is still two hours away?

Do you bring your lunch or eat out every day?

These small €5 purchases on a daily basis that provide no nutritional value whatsoever are what’s eating away your food budget. Stop spending €2.50 for Monster Energy Drinks or €2.00 for that 20 oz. Coke. Your money is better spent elsewhere.

Want to know the best part about healthy eating?

Once your body makes the adjustment from constantly expecting empty calories (which takes time, trust me), these cravings that you’re used to having will gradually start to disappear – instead, the healthy meals that you prepare (which can be cooked in 15 minutes, just look at Lean in 15 by Joe Wicks) and the healthy snacks that you bring from home will keep you full and satisfied and you won’t even think about trips to the vending machine or snack bar.

So please stop spending unnecessary money on empty calories that leave you unfulfilled – you’re already on to a happier fitter lifestyle.

Anyone can cook

If you can learn to cook two or three basic healthy meals, along with a healthy breakfast option that you’re cool with having on a regular basis, you can absolutely dominate a week of healthy living on a cheap budget.

This is what we’re up against for a “cheap meal” (rough pricing, will depend on your area):

  • McDonald’s Quarter Pounder w/Cheese Meal – €5
  • Burger King’s Double Whopper Meal – €7

Here is an earlier blog that I have written that will help you come up with a shopping list:

How to eat healthy on a budget

Here are my tips

1.Prepare in advance!

On Sunday night while watching a Friends re run or Netflix, cook ALL of your lunches and portion things out. It’s super easy to chop up chicken into 3oz sections, cook them on a tray in the oven, and then stick them into individual plastic bags in your fridge. Grab one of those and a bag of frozen veggies and bring them with you to work – BAM. Lunch.

2.Buy in bulk and freeze

It’s possible to never pay more than €2 a pound for boneless chicken breast or €7 for a pound of steak. If you can find it on sale, buy a WHOLE BUNCH of it (a few pounds), cut it up into smaller pieces and separate into separate bags if you so choose, and freeze it!

Need a funky snack? – Think differently! Instead of bags of chips that cost €2 eat some cashew nuts or a piece of fruit.

Frozen vegetables are amazing – Especially the steamfresh bags of veggies. They’re a €1 or €2 each! Sure, maybe not as delicious as fresh veggies, but they won’t go bad, they’re so freaking easy to prepare (step 1: stick in microwave. step 2: eat), and they’re cheap!

3. Pick real food.

By “real food,” we mean foods in their natural state (such as apples versus sweetened, colored applesauce) or foods with as little processing and additives as possible. A good tip is to look for foods that contain five or fewer ingredients. Being able to pronounce and identify all five ingredients is a good sign too. These less processed foods are often cheaper than their processed counterparts, and usually contain more nutrients, fewer calories, and less sodium, added sugar, and fat.

4. Don’t be misled.

Packaging terms like “fat-free,” “low sodium,” and “high fiber” are based on a food’s nutrients and have very specific meanings defined by the FDA. However, other labels like “natural” sound good but aren’t substantiated by science, making it confusing for shoppers. In fact, claims like those to “improve memory” or “support the immune system” don’t really mean anything yet, aside from making a product sound like it’s nutritionally superior and worth the extra money. Don’t get sucked into the marketing. If it sounds too good to be true and can’t be backed up by the Nutrition Facts panel, save your money.

Enjoy your food and be clever in what you eat. There is no need to spend thousands of euros a year on food. Healthy food can taste good too.