Eating healthy on a budget is possible, but requires a shift in thinking when it comes to meal planning and grocery shopping.
Of course we should all eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, and buy organic when possible. But how can this work within a budget?
I’ve put together some tips and tricks to get you started without breaking the bank.
Why IS healthy food more expensive? It’s a tough question but involves our current food system, which makes highly-processed junk and fast food more affordable than fresh, healthy foods.
Take an inventory of what you already have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer.
Keep your fridge and freezer organized and label your containers. Food lost and rotting in the darkest reaches of the fridge, freezer, or pantry is what? (say it with me) Money wasted!
There’s no need to blow the bank on all things organic. Key foods to purchase as organic if you can:
I always recommend organic choices for dairy and meat – but that’s where the dollars start to add up. See the next tip!
You knew this one was coming!
There is no way around it – purchasing grass-fed, organic, free-range, or hormone-free animal products isn’t cheap. However, most people eat more animal protein than they really need. This is one area where I would spend the money on the quality and cut back on the quantity.
Pre-prepared beverages can be expensive and are often very unhealthy. Even fruit juice doesn’t offer much nutrition (it’s generally just liquid sugar). Just say no to $5 coffees! Make your own smoothies with whole fruits and vegetables.
Unless you are taking a very specific supplement for a health condition, you can probably reduce supplements when you start eating healthier.
Remember, supplements are meant to “supplement” a good diet – not to compensate for a bad one.
You can get vitamins, minerals, and probiotics from real food – especially fermented foods like miso and sauerkraut. Food first! I know, bummer. Also, there’s usually no need for superfood powders.
Don’t forget the not-so-sexy-but-just-as-super superfoods like broccoli, red bell peppers, cabbage, romaine lettuce, sweet potatoes, etc. All whole foods are super!
Beans, grains, and legumes pack a nutritional power punch. They’re also a great bang for your buck, giving you protein, vitamins, and fiber. Dried versions of these staples are inexpensive, store well, and are magic in a slow cooker. Canned goods are more convenient but usually cost more.
Yes, you CAN get ample protein from beans, legumes and grains… but that’s another article.
Mexican and Indian dishes are full of inexpensive ingredients like beans, lentils, and rice. Our local library has the latest cookbooks. You might even find a recipe our two on this website.
Don’t resist produce on sale, especially organics. They may not have been on your list but you can cut them up, freeze them, and use them later.
Whipped frozen banana makes an amazing and inexpensive “ice cream”.
More picnics and barbecues! Have friends over for a potluck – even better! You can buy a lot of groceries for the cost of a night out.
Don’t ignore the frozen aisle of your grocery stores. Well, maybe skip the ice cream and pizza sections.
Remember, if you are buying frozen strawberries, the only ingredient should be… strawberries. Check the label!
Nutrients in frozen produce will eventually degrade, so eat soon after purchasing. Steam rather than boil to retain as many vitamins as possible and use the water from your steamed vegetables when cooking rice or soup.
Make your own version of processed foods like hummus, salsa, condiments, soups, ice cream, etc. You’re paying for the convenience and brand rather than the actual ingredients. And when you make it yourself, you can make it exactly how you like.
Do some research and figure out when local farmer’s markets are happening in your area.
Pro tip: Arriving later in the day often yields some good deals – vendors are usually willing to negotiate a bit more at the end of the day.
Even on a limited income we can each make a few small upgrades that could have a massive impact on our health – without having a massive drain on our wallet.
Remember: change your plate, change your fate!
“Eating healthy on a budget” was written by Nutritionist & Orthomolecular Practitioner Tricia Pearson. Thanks for reading!
Tricia Pearson is a Certified Nutritionist specializing in cancer and diabetes. Check out Tricia's services and find out how to harvest the best of your health.
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