You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. And if you’ve given up the diet mentality, you feel no shame about doing just that.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have the ability to eat your favorite meal from your favorite restaurant as often as you might like. And it doesn’t mean that you have an unlimited budget and don’t need to take food cost and waste into account.
My favorite ice cream is $6.99 a pint at my usual grocery store, which is too much for me to justify regularly. I typically only buy it when it’s on sale but if I’m really craving it, I’ll purchase it full-price. The key is I know I can have it whenever I want, I just balance that with my food budget. Sometimes just knowing you can have it whenever you want is enough (the magic of giving yourself permission to eat all foods!). Yes, I fully acknowledge that I have privilege in that I have a full-time job and can afford expensive ice cream whenever I want. It is a privilege to have choice in what you eat and to be able to follow your hunger and fullness cues.
Intuitive eating doesn’t occur in a vacuum — it has to be sustainable with our lifestyle.
So what do you do when…
Nothing sounds good
You don’t want your leftovers
You’re craving something from a restaurant or store that is closed/too expensive/otherwise inaccessible?
Consider why you want that food. Is it because you’re bored with your current leftovers? Is it a specific flavor profile you’re craving? Is it because that meal or food brings back fond memories? Is it because you need to go grocery shopping (and get a wide variety of tasty foods)?
When what you want just isn’t accessible, consider these options:
-Make a DIY version
-Identify why you’re craving that food and then work to fulfill that need
-If it’s really not about the food, what other coping mechanisms will help you feel better?
A little planning and know-how can go a long way. Consider these strategies for ensuring you have a variety of tasty food on hand to satisfy your hunger.
3 Ways to Eat Intuitively on a Budget, Without Wasting Food
Use Your Freezer
I freeze everything from rice and quinoa to muffins and cookies. You’ll find entire meals, single servings of sauces, shredded cheese and fruits and veggies in my freezer. If there’s something I’m not going to eat before it starts to go bad, in the freezer it goes.
Not only does this reduce food waste, but it increases your options. That casserole you love? Freeze a couple portions of it so you can have some a few weeks from now when you don’t feel like cooking. Rarely have time to bake? Make a double batch of your favorite muffins and freeze them so you can thaw and enjoy whenever you want.
Expand Your Food Budget
This can be especially helpful when you’re first experimenting with intuitive eating and giving yourself permission to enjoy all foods. You don’t want to feel too restricted by your budget, so is it possible to cut back in other spending areas so you can enjoy lots of fun foods? Consider a “no new things” challenge for a month or two, which is better for the environment anyway. Or, instead of going out on the weekends, host a board game night (a favorite of mine)!
Eat More Plant-Based
Stock your kitchen with staples such as whole grains and dried beans that are super affordable, versatile and nutrition-packed. They can serve as the base for countless meals and help fill you up for less money than convenience foods. They also can be used to make delicious dishes such as veggie burgers, falafel, chili and tacos.
How do you eat intuitively on a budget? I’d love to hear the strategies that work for you! Comment below.