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Healthy food creates healthy bodies with lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer. Better nutrition leads to better sleep and more energy. So why not eat healthier? Some people still believe that they can’t afford to heat healthy, but that’s simply not true. While not as cheap as processed junk food you can eat healthy while maintaining a budget.

Start by planning in advance. Create a shopping list and stick to it. Never go to the store hungry. Stay on task, and don’t get distracted by free samples or bright displays. You’re on a mission!

Start with fruits and vegetables. Local, in-season produce tends to cost less than anything out of season. Shipping produce always adds expense, so if your area hosts a farmers market or community garden, you can save money by sourcing your produce there.

If fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t an option, use frozen varieties as an alternative. Frozen produce has the same great nutritional value as the fresh stuff, but costs less and has year-round availability. When used in recipes or smoothies, you’ll never notice the difference.

While fruits and vegetables make up the majority of a healthy diet, you’ll want to add protein as well. If you eat meat, nothing beats chicken as an inexpensive protein source. Frozen chicken breasts can be prepared in any number of delicious ways, and they don’t cost much. If you don’t eat meat, add protein from alternative sources like lentils, black beans, or oats.

When it comes time to prepare your meals, consider doubling the amount you make. Pack some of the surplus for lunches, and freeze the rest to use as dinner later that week. This discourages you from buying quick drive-thru lunches, or getting take out on your way home from work.

Only eat at restaurants on special occasions, and pay attention to what you order. Check the menu or ask the waitstaff if they offer any healthy options. Request a to-go box right away and pack up half of your order; restaurants serve extra-large portions, so don’t eat everything in one meal. Also consider what you’re drinking; sodas and alcoholic beverages contain a lot of empty calories, so enjoy them sparingly.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to take your whole paycheck. While healthy options may still cost a little more than processed junk food, good nutrition provides a much higher value. Eating better leads to looking and feeling better, but you can do it without destroying your budget.

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