Pound for pound, generally speaking, it’s cheaper to eat poorly. A few packages of factory farmed meat, a gallon of commercially produced milk, butter, white bread, potato chips, cereal, chocolate chip cookies, instant potatoes, minute-rice, frozen lasagna and pizza, ice cream and soda on sale…yep, it’s cheap.
And you do get what you pay for. But when you change your eating habits from bad to good, by swapping certain foods for others, you’ll find it isn’t actually much more expensive. Sometimes, it’s even less so.
Here are a few tips to keep your waistline slim, and your wallet…not so much.
Add up what you’re NOT buying.
If you’re cutting back on meat, even if when you do eat meat you buy the more expensive and healthy cuts, you will save money. All the processed, packaged foods you don’t put in your cart add up. Do a calculation of how much all the food you don’t need to eat and won’t be buying will save you. It’s a mental thing, but a great exercise on the way to eating healthy and saving money.
Buy your produce at your local farmer’s market.
When you can, it’s worth the trip. The produce is not only considerably less expensive, but it tastes better, and it’s healthier! The food isn’t shipped a long distance, which means it’s fresher and retains more of its nutrients and flavor. Plus, you are supporting your local economy – a financial win-win for all involved.
Take some time to go to the farms and orchards themselves. You can get a steal on peaches, tomatoes, sweet corn and blueberries if you buy them directly from the farmers. Plus, you’ll feel more connected to your food and the people who bring it to you. Explore the farm, learn a little about the process. Many times, farmers will also sell their foods at little roadside stands and small markets, not just the farmer’s markets. So find out where they are and go to them to get the freshest, best foods possible.
Organic is better, but not always necessary.
Again, local produce can be just as, if not more, healthy. Some of it even is organically grown – the farms just have to meet very expensive government standards in order to officially make the claim. And there are certain foods that make little sense to spend the extra money, because the benefits of their being organically cultivated are negligible.
Frozen fruits and vegetables make sense.
Stock up on frozen versions of your fruits and vegetables. As long as no sweeteners or preservatives have been added, frozen fruits and vegetables are just as, and often more, full of nutrients as the fresh stuff. They are often not just less expensive at the point of purchase, but also cost effective for the long haul, because they don’t go bad and you won’t ever find yourself having to throw the excess away. You can also manage portions better this way – while the amount of peppers and onions in the fajita mix might be less per ounce than the actual peppers and onions in the produce section, that amount might be all you need at this particular time. The best way to use these foods are in your smoothies, because cooking can kill the nutrients. So when you cook, make sure you steam at a low heat, and for a short time.
Learn to make a few things from scratch.
This can admittedly be a challenge for some, but if you want to save money, you can do it by spending a little more time in the kitchen.
Some healthy foods are very easy on the wallet.
Buy a large bag of whole grain brown rice – it won’t set you back at all, and it’s much less expensive than the processed instant side dishes. The same goes for oatmeal – ounce for ounce, you’d be hard pressed to find a more economical and filling meal. Kale is perhaps the healthiest food on the planet, and it will cost you about a dollar per bunch. The same goes for lots of leafy greens, and we all need to eat more of those. Learn to love the healthy foods that are already in your budget.
Beans are cheap!
When you make the decision to switch a lot of your meat based dishes to beans, you will literally save a fortune. Beans are possibly the best food deal on the planet; when it comes to eating healthy and saving money, you simply cannot do better than beans! They are super dense in nutrients and a host of health benefits, they are filling, and they cost cents on the meat dollar. Plus, there is such a variety of different beans out there, it’s hard to get bored. To really save money, buy them in bags and make the commitment to soaking them and preparing them all naturally. However, you can still get deals on your beans if you buy them in cans, admittedly more convenient. Just make sure they are low in sodium and you rinse them before preparing.
Grow your own herbs & vegetables.
Start a garden! It’s not that difficult. Herbs in particular can be expensive, but they add so much to your foods, especially when you are trying to eat healthfully. They are easy to cultivate on your window sill.
Eating healthy and saving money aren’t mutually exclusive activities! We just have to get a little bit beyond our love of convenience, and embrace instead a love for wellness. If you truly do that, in the end, the costs will even out, but the benefits will be priceless.
By Jennifer Nyx, a Holistic Health Coach and Personal Trainer dedicated to support her clients with their health goals and empower them to make lasting changes in their behavior and lifestyle. you can find her at nyxwellness.com.