Eating well on any budget
Many people think that eating healthy is destined to be expensive; but I am here to tell you otherwise!
As more and more people take interest in eating healthy, many people wonder how they will be able to afford it. From college students, to single mothers or large families- many people are on a budget, and that's totally possible. There are so many wonderful foods that can be purchased at your local grocery store or Farmer's Market that are cheap and nutritious!
“If you think the pursuit of good health is expensive and time consuming; try illness.”
There are many benefits of eating healthy, as you may know. However, one of the things that most people don't think about is how much money they can actually save!
Think about how many times that you and your family eat out per week. Add the cost of drinks, food, "extras", plus the tip, and you're likely spending triple the amount of money on food at a restaurant that you wouldn't have spent on the same meal made at home. If "time" is an issue: calculate the amount of time it takes to get ready to go out, traveling to the destination, and the time that it takes for the food to be prepared, served, and eaten. Preparing delicious and nutritious meals at home does not have to be expensive or time consuming.
Start with the staples
If you are just starting a healthy eating plan, it is wise to stock your pantry with "staples", or the foods that you will be using regularly to prepare meals. Organic olive oil, unrefined organic coconut oil, Himalayan sea salt, and plenty of herbs and spices are a great place to start. These may be more expensive initially, but trust me, they are a great investment for your recipes and for your health! A good buying option for staples, especially if you are on a tight budget, is to order through Thrive Market. Their products are typically 25-50% retail prices that are seen in high-end stores such as Whole Foods Market. Some more things to include in your pantry are canned wild caught salmon (which is surprising cheap), sardines, mackerel, and anchovies. Tuna is okay to eat about once per month, only because it is high in mercury. Stock up on nuts and seeds, but make sure they are raw and preferably organic. You will be surprised at how long these things can last in your kitchen. Still think these things are expensive? Calculate how much money you spend in Starbucks or other chain coffee shops every month (trust me, it adds up!)
Shop local and in-season
Most cities here in America have some sort of farmer's market either within the limits, or within driving distance. The beauty of shopping at a farmer's market is that you not only save a ton of money, but you can be rest assured that your food is fresh and likely organic as well. Supporting local farmers is also a perk because its cuts down on the environmental impact due to food transportation. If a farmer's market is not an option, a local grocery store will do the trick. You may have to do a little research prior to making your shopping list, but finding out what foods are "in season" can also give you more bang for your buck. Learning the "dirty dozen" and the "clean fifteen" will also help you shop. Many people believe that every single fruit and vegetable that they eat must be organic. Though ideal, it is not always necessary. You can find an updated list of these fruits and vegetable here: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
P.S. fresh is not always better than frozen! Frozen, organic vegetables are not only cheaper, but they usually contain more nutrients due to being flash-frozen directly after harvesting. Wild blueberry smoothie, anyone?
Plan your meals and rethink leftovers
There are many of us who seem to think that we are too "busy" to even think about what we are going to eat. Although that may be the case, I can assure you that by taking ten minutes out of your week to write down your meal plans for you and your family, your schedule and your health will thank you. Meal planning helps cut down on your grocery bill because you are not buying things on a whim. You can use many different ingredients for many different meals so that you are getting what you paid for and nothing goes to waste! How great is that? If you have a large family to feed, or even if you live alone, preparing meals that will last a few days will also benefit your wallet and your time. Think casseroles, crockpot meals, frittatas, and cast-iron skillet bakes. All of these can be made in large portions that will last you several days and taste great as leftovers.
Reconsider your splurges
Let's be realistic; we all splurge. Even when we are on a tight budget, it is nice to be able to treat ourselves to something nice on occasion. When you are looking to treat yourself or your family, instead of getting that decadent double chocolate cake for dessert, consider buying some nicely marbled organic, grass-fed steaks. This is one of my favorite splurges for many reasons! Grass-fed steak contains a multitude of nutrients, it is chalk full of omega-3's, and it doesn't spike your blood sugar like the chocolate cake would. Another one of my favorite splurges is organic, sulfite free red wine. Treat yourself to something that will have a positive impact on your health, not the opposite.