Enjoying gorgeous whole foods should be an essential part of curating a life you love. It's very much possible to eat nutrient-dense meals even if you don't have an abundance of resources (time and money).  Part of creating a balanced life is eating a balanced diet. I don't prescribe to any labels, instead I approach eating with a perspective of nourishing my body with the best. Naturally, many of us have restrictions due to religion, allergies, or physical intolerance. Taking those into consideration it is easy to develop a meal system that nurtures your body and saves you money.  

One essential tenet of creating a meal plan that's both healthy and affordable is knowledge. But educating yourself on what a proper diet should be is not an easy task. There's not only too much information, but also a lot of misinformation and a lot of fads. In the late 80s and throughout the 90s is was all about fat-free everything and now a lot of research studies associate that misinformation to the our current obesity epidemic. My personal recommendation is Michael Pollan's book. This is one of the best books I've come across over my years of earning a degree in health and wellness. The book is both enlightening and relieving. After reading his book I highly recommend doing your own independent research. I know your schedule is already full, but not making time for this could mean paying for it later. 

Make Your Food List:
With knowledge in hand make a list of food that would appear on your ideal nutrient dense diet. Steer clear of adding things that your body is intolerant or allergic towards. This might be one of the hardest things to do and there will be days, depending on your physical reaction, that you might want to sacrifice your body to indulge your taste buds. Just don't give in too often. And if you're not sure why you're bloated, have constant headaches or what's causing a negative impact on your body try the elimination method. That's removing one item from your diet that have on a normal basis for a period of time, say a month, and observe how your body reacts. You can get a deeper understanding from the Whole30 page. 

Look for Savings
With an idea of what meals you'd like to make, grab some money saving tools that can save you some major bucks at the market. My favorites is Food, a free app for iOS and Android, that allows you to meal plan and see local sales from your popular grocers. It even tells you what items from your list are on sale. Another great tool is the site Supercook where you can list the items you have in your pantry (or will have) and it generate a recipe. All Recipes also has this feature. You can save even more by buying locally grown and buying in-season. And don't count out growing your own small herbs garden

With your list and saving deals in hand head to the store or better yet a local farmer's market (search here). Look for deals, but try not to stray from your list. Great tip is to stay on the outer edge on the supermarket where all the fresh produce are typically kept. Buy non-perishables in bulk; and buy frozen meat, especially fish. Just make sure you're getting quality. 

Meal Planning:
Lastly, make your meals for the week. I usually keep my breakfast and lunch standard for a whole week and get creative with dinner. I do this on Sundays to give me enough time make some things in advance. Here's a bit some inspiration and click here to download the meal planning printable above for free. Breakfast doesn't usually take me more than 15 mins to make so I just prepare ingredients if I have to. Lunch is prepared on Sundays or the night before, so is dinner. I rarely come home with enough energy to cook. There will be some variations depending on your job. Eating lunch out with co-workers is a great way to socialize, but keep this to once a week or better every other week. 

Eating wholesome foods shouldn't be a complicated or costly venture. Instead it should be something to relish for it's energy and health boosting outcome. Prepping and planning your meals in advance will definitely make this easier. And don't forget to keep healthy snacks around the house and in your office. Any other suggestions? I'd love to read them.

Happy Healthy Eating,