Top 10 Ways to Eat Well & Spend Less
How can it be fair and just for it to cost so much less to eat junk, processed, refined food than it does to buy healthy, fresh, locally grown or organic food?
If you are tempted to go for junk food because it is cheaper than real, living food, then remember the cost to your health.
It is a tall order, making sure you eat well and spend less, but it can be done.
Here are 10 ways eat healthy on a budget
1. A little planning can help a lot. If you plan the meals for the coming week, make a list of the ingredients you need and then shop, it means fewer trips to the grocery store. It is a well known fact that most people spend more when they shop more frequently. But be flexible because if you see items on special, you can always build a meal or meals around them. This also stops the need to buy “last minute” food items in convenience stores or drug stores, where healthy options are limited and prices are higher. Never go food shopping with your partner and/or children – you will always spend much, much more than you planned to do and they will want to choose the less healthy options!
2. Look for healthy options and specials at your regular supermarket first because many stock organic alternatives and fresh foods that may be cheaper than the brands. Whole Foods and other high end organic stores are about 20% to 30% more expensive than other supermarkets. But even at Whole Foods, there are sales that can make their products more affordable. Make sure to get the coupon booklet when you enter the store. You can get coupons on organic and other healthy items from deliciouslivingmag.com or healthsavers.com. You can also band together with other people in a Food Co-Op to get steep discounts on healthy organic food. It is important to go for organic meat whenever possible. Avoid those meats and poultry where the animals and birds are factory farmed and pumped full of antibiotics and other chemicals. You are safe with lamb because they cannot be factory farmed.
3. Always save money by choosing in-season fruits and vegetables, preferably locally produced. There are some fruit and vegetables that are more important to buy organic than others. Known as the dirty dozen because of the high level of pesticides used in their production, the most contaminated fruits and vegetables are peach, apple, bell pepper, celery, nectarine, strawberries, cherries, imported grapes, lettuce and carrots. You can go ahead and enjoy the clean fifteen without worrying about organic – they are just as healthy – onion, avocado, sweet corn (except GM corn), pin asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, papaya, watermelon, broccoli, tomato and sweet potato. Frozen produce in bulk is the second best bet to save money. Support your local farmer’s market especially for fruits and vegetables that are in season. This is usually a good option because you’ll get extremely fresh product at great prices. Become a regular and you will get to know your local producers on a personal level for even better service and prices. If you have a backyard, seriously consider growing your own vegetables. I would if I had the space. But I do have room for blueberries, parsley, chives, rosemary, thyme, a lemon tree and a grape fruit tree. Even if you cannot manage a full home vegetable garden, certain spices and vegetables can be grown relatively cheaply and without too much work.
4. Save on cooking, preparation costs and time by having one raw meal each day. I choose lunchtime for my raw meal. A big plate of fresh salad with avocado, lettuce, tomato, raw almonds or walnuts, chives, peppers, cucumber, parsley, celery with a olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing or a coleslaw with finely chopped raw cabbage, carrot, celery, grated apple mixed with mayonnaise and a dash of apple of vinegar. The final combination is up to you.
5. Buy inexpensive sources of protein, such as beans, lentils, nuts or meat in large packages, which you can divide up and freeze in smaller portions if your family will not eat it all at once. If you’re not sure which size package is the better deal, compare the unit prices on the label on the front of the shelf. Purchasing staples like nuts, grains and dried fruit from the bulk bins at your grocery store will save you money.
6. Stock your pantry with cost-effective, non-perishable ingredients so you can make healthy last-minute meals when you need to. Examples are : whole wheat tortillas, canned beans, pasta, spaghetti sauce, frozen vegetables, frozen organic chicken breasts, whole wheat bread, nuts/nut butter and whole grain cereals so you always have something to fall back on. I am sure you can add to this list.
7. Encourage, threaten or bribe your family to steer clear of the expense and poor nutrition of vending machines for their food and drink when they are away from home. Pack them healthy snacks to take with them when they go off to school or to work.
8. Add lemon slices to a refillable bottle of water to keep your drink tasting fresh all day. If you filter your water and keep it in the fridge, it will taste as good as bottled water and cost way less in terms of cost both to you and to the environment. Campaign for your local municipal water supplier to stop fluoridating the water supply. You and your family members should take a bottle wherever you go. Sodas whether regular or diet are particularly bad for your health.
9. Eat Eggs. Of course they should be free range or organic but eggs are full of vitamins, high in proteins but low in price. Eat them just lightly cooked for maximum benefit. Great for breakfast and you can alternate with your own homemade muesli made with a big box of raw oats as the basis and add other ingredients like dried fruit, sunflower seeds and more.
10. How you store in your fridge can make a difference to your costs. Go to this link for some great ideas on how you can save money while keeping your food in the fridge at optimum freshness.
Eating healthily means lowered disease risks, increases your productivity and gives you more energy. Eating well and spending less means a win/win situation.