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Forget Fast Food: 5 Ways to Enjoy Healthy Eating on a Budget

Forget Fast Food: 5 Ways to Enjoy Healthy Eating on a Budget

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Trying to eat healthy? It might cost you.

Wanting to develop better eating habits sounds simple, but savoring seasonal fruits and vegetables can do some major damage to your wallet, leading you to splurge on those jean-busting treats that seem to be cheaper.

READ: 10 Foods That Pack on the Pounds (and How to Enjoy Them Guilt-Free)

In 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that foods high in saturated fat and added sugar tend to be more affordable, which could be the reason why you’re saving big bucks but also struggling with the added pounds.

“There’s no denying that eating healthy can be very expensive,” explains Alexandra Catalano, health consultant and author of “From Beer Pongs to Broccoli: The College Kid's Guide to Health and Wellness.” “Junk food is so cheap, fast, and practically everywhere.”

Whether you’re watching your weight or ready to jumpstart a better lifestyle, Catalano insists there are five simple ways to enjoy delicious, vitamin-rich foods on a budget. Cut the junk and read on:

To Organic or Not to Organic?

“While it is best to consume organic foods because they have 87 percent more mineral content and are not genetically modified, if you are on a budget, you can buy non-organic foods [and] don’t eat the skin,” says Catalano. To satisfy that sweet tooth, look out for fruits, such as mangoes, pineapples and bananas, which are made to be eaten without the skin — the area that contains waxes and pesticides. In general, if the fruit or vegetable you buy requires you to peel the skin off, you can go organic-free and save extra dollars.

Help Burn Fat the Affordable Way

“One of the most inexpensive and effective cleansers is hot water with lemon first thing in the morning,” says Catalano. “Lemon is rich in vitamin C and helps boost the liver, which is our major fat-burning organ. The hot water helps hydrate the body and push toxins out of the colon.”

READ: 10 Easy Ways to Start Eating Clean

Eat More Raw Foods

While loading up on meats and dairy products can rack up the bill at the supermarket, Catalano says raw fruits and vegetables are less expensive and loaded with more enzymes your body needs to look and feel its best. “Enzymes are the catalysts of biochemical reactions in living beings and perform thousands of important life functions, such as helping to digest food, prevent wrinkles, speed up weight loss, and even repair skin tone,” she says. The more fruits and veggies you buy, the fewer items you’ll need to splurge on, which means you'll spend less prep time in the kitchen. To transition into raw eating with ease, Catalano recommends starting your next meal with fresh veggies before ingesting cooked food.

Buy One Type of Vinegar

“Apple cider vinegar is great to help promote the growth of friendly bacteria in your body that are often killed by all the antibiotics we consume daily from eating animal products,” says Catalano. “For optimal digestion, have a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water 20 minutes before meals.” When preparing salads for lunch or dinner, skip those creamy, pricey dressings and opt for more wallet-friendly apple cider vinegar instead.

READ: Hot Water and Lemon: A Weight Loss Breakfast?

Say Goodbye to Sugary Drinks

Sodas and fruit juices may be refreshing, but this added investment can be loaded with calories. Why stock up on these when you can enjoy zero-calorie, thirst-quenching water instead? “One of the quickest ways to lose weight and improve your health is to drink water,” says Catalano. “Water helps push toxins out of the body, hydrate the skin, boost metabolism, and bring oxygen to your cells.” To calculate the amount of water you should be drinking throughout the day, Catalano advises you divide your weight — in pounds — by 2, and then drink that many ounces of water. (For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should be drinking 70 ounces of water.) Don't neglect to drink water 30 minutes before or after meals, either.

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