In this post, I will share 6 tips on how to eat budget-friendly sustainable food. These are things that I have learned over the past 1-2 years, as I have become more aware of how much I spend on food and my food’s impact on the planet.
I still have a lot to learn and I don’t claim to be perfect. But, these tips are helpful in my day-to-day food-decisions. I hope they can inspire you too – or perhaps encourage you to share some of your own ideas.
Disclaimer: There are so many elements of nutrition and sustainability that I could dive into in this post. However, my purpose today is to provide a few easy and actionable tips for you on your journey to eat more cheaply and environmentally friendly. In the future, I’ll write a series of posts going into more detail with the elements covered here.
What do I mean with budget-friendly sustainable food?
When I think of budget-friendly food, it’s food that is affordable considering its nutritional value. When I think of sustainable food, it’s food that has the smallest possible impact on the environment and animal welfare.
Budget-friendly sustainable food is the beautiful combination of the two. In other words, food that is good for your finances and the planet at the same time.
Tips for eating more budget-friendly and sustainably
Below, I have listed some of my best and easiest tips for eating more budget-friendly and sustainably. I rely on these tips myself to guide my food buying habits. So am I always rockin’ it and is this list only for pros? No! I definitely could get better at planning meals (and at times, eating out less), but having identified some goals for how I spend money on food is key to working towards them. I’m OK with not being perfect as long as I try to improve and be mindful of my food-habits.
6 things you can do today
- Eat less meat, eggs and dairy
- Eat more vegetables, beans and lentils
- Plan your meals
- Buy in bulk
- Cook your own food
- Make large portions and freeze leftovers
A plant-based diet is better for your wallet and the planet
The first thing you can do to eat in a way that will boost your way to financial independence (by saving money!) and a more sustainable life is to eat less meat, eggs and dairy and more plants.
Meat is expensive. Yes, you can definitely find some meat that is inexpensive (in Denmark, non-organic chicken and ground beef is usually pretty affordable), but that often means the quality isn’t great either. And most vegetables, beans and lentils with good nutritional value are cheaper, even if you buy organic.
So by shifting to a more plant-based diet, you’re already going to save money on your groceries each month. Mind you, I’m not telling you to go vegetarian or vegan, although if you did, you’d probably save even more. But even a small change will make a difference.
The meat, egg and dairy industry has a huge environmental footprint; it is responsible for a large part of the global greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and fresh water consumption and pollution. It’s also an industry that causes a lot of pain every day to all the chickens, cows and pigs required to feed us humans.
Naturally, the production of plant-based foods also has a considerable environmental footprint. However, it is much, much smaller than that of the meat and dairy production. Unless you grow all of your own food (and perhaps not even then), you probably can’t avoid having a small impact on the environment. But – you can reduce your environmental impact and spare a lot of animals by eating more plants and less meat.
Good habits are key for your journey to financial independence and a sustainable life
Regardless of your diet, you can optimise your food spending by implementing a few simple habits.
By planning your meals and buying in bulk, it is possible to save quite a bit of money. Knowing exactly what you need to buy can reduce expensive impulse buying, and buying in bulk often means a lower price/kg. I have also found that this saves me a considerable amount of time, as I shop less often. Win!
There is also a ton of money to be saved by cooking your own meals and always keeping delicious leftovers in the freezer – trust me, I know. I am a huge foodie and have always loved eating out or getting takeout. In fact, this is probably my biggest discretionary budget item – my Achilles heel.
During the past year or so, I have become much more mindful of how much I want to eat out and have reduced it quite a bit. I still eat out or order take-away maybe once a month on a special occasion, but other than that, I cook my own food.
And more often than not, I cook a lot. Enough to have leftovers for lunch and for the freezer. This way, I don’t have to buy expensive lunches at work or order expensive takeout when I’m hungry for dinner and the fridge is empty. There is always something at hand. That is a lot of money saved – and it is such a luxury to always have delicious dishes at hand.
Share your tips and tricks for eating budget-friendly sustainable food
Do you have any tips, ideas or inspiration on how to eat budget-friendly sustainable food? Then leave a comment and share your thoughts. By sharing and discussing, we strengthen the community that cares about personal finance and sustainable living.
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