Bringing a baby into the world tends to put the squeeze on your bank account. But just because you’re tightening the purse strings to buy a stroller or crib (or even start saving for college) doesn’t mean your diet has to pay the price.
At first glance, it might seem like all the good-for-you foods (think all-natural, organic, grass-fed, etc.) come with a bad-for-your-wallet price tag. But it’s not true that eating healthfully has to cost you a lot more money. In fact, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, a healthy diet costs a mere $1.50 more per day than what you’d dole out for an unhealthy one.
With a little planning and some smart shopping strategies, you might be surprised what nutritious eats you can afford on a smaller budget. Let’s get started, shall we?
“I recommend starting by making a list of the healthy foods you do like and then going from there,” says Monson. It might be worth it to splurge on a few more expensive items you’ll actually look forward to eating, if, say, canned tuna sounds like the worst thing in the world when you’re battling morning sickness.
“Keep an eye on your fridge, and move items to the freezer before they go bad,” suggests Monson. “You can freeze pretty much anything—cheese, herbs, lemon zest, cooked or uncooked meat, the list goes on.”
The trick, she says, is to use frozen foods in a way that will taste good. “Frozen kale does not make good kale chips, and frozen broccoli will never steam and be slightly crisp like fresh broccoli—but if you know that, you can plan accordingly.”
You’re on the right track if you’re thinking casseroles, stews and any meal that involves a slow cooker. Monson recommends freezing fresh greens like spinach and chard to use later in soups and smoothies. Chop, bag and freeze a mix of veggies to add to quiches, stir-frys and more!
When in doubt
Everyday meals don’t need to be a four-course affair. Keep food simple to save you time when pregnancy fatigue hits hard. If you can reuse ingredients, even better.
- For breakfast: Protein shakes with frozen berries and frozen greens can be blended up in a jiffy for an on-the-go meal that satisfies.
- For lunch: A baked sweet potato topped with shredded chicken, tomatoes and a dash of your favorite seasonings (try chili powder!) is a go-to at Monson’s house.
- For dinner: Monson loves a crustless egg quiche. Toss in diced sweet potatoes and maybe a canned vegetable, like asparagus. It’s easy to prepare and can live in your fridge or freezer for a ready-made meal or snack.
In her book, Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day, Leanne Brown shares 17 tips for eating and shopping well (along with dozens of recipes). Here are three to get you started.
- Start building a pantry.
Earmark a small portion of your weekly food budget for stocking up on staples (spices, low-sodium soy sauce, olive oil) that you’ll use again and again over time. It can be costly to buy them all at once, so space out purchases to stagger the spending.
- Always buy eggs.
These affordable orbs can turn almost anything into a meal. For the expectant crowd, they’re a 90-calorie gold mine of nutrients, including choline, which promotes baby’s brain development.
- Don’t buy drinks.
Milk is the only exception to this rule. What your body needs most is water. If you have a hankering for something a little more festive, make a smoothie or brew a cup of pregnancy-safe tea.