By Heidi Baldwin, Integrative Nutrition Holistic Health Coach
There are countless reasons people give me for not eating healthy foods – a hectic day at work, no time to shop at the supermarket, not sure how to cook healthier meals, or even not being able to afford healthy food options. These are valid concerns, and with a few tweaks and some understanding, you will soon realize these are quite easy to fix. And best of all, healthy food does NOT have to be more expensive. Most of the time, it's actually the least costly option.
The US Department of Agriculture even took it to heart to show those on a budget how making healthier choices with food is not more expensive. In the study, things like carrots and pinto beans are much less expensive per portion that things like ice cream and sweet rolls.
Foods that are high in protein, saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium all clocked in as being more expensive than vegetables, fruits, and grains. So that myth about healthier foods being too expensive is now officially busted. Great news, right?
If you've been making these same justifications, there is no better time than right now to explore healthier options at your supermarket. No time? Order it online. Even if you can't afford a delivery service, many supermarkets offer the chance to simply pick it up at your convenience at no additional charge. Misfits Markets is a great option for a produce delivery box right to your door. I can help you with a link that may even save you some cash on your first order. Check your local farmers markets, and CSA options as well for the best prices and freshest produce grown locally. Email me at email@example.com if you need some recommendations.
Ordering food ahead, or enlisting in some sort of delivery service may even help you avoid impulse purchases for junk food. Let's face it…it's tasty, but it's not healthy! Need some help eating better on a budget?
Follow these tips:
Budget for meat and fish
Lean meats and fish will always fetch the larger cost in your cart. Look for sales to stock up and freeze it for later use, or factor in mostly meat-free meals for the week and only splurge 2-3x a week on fish or organic lean meats. Visit www.NurtureMyHealth.com and visit the recommendations page for my top recommendation on what I believe to be the healthiest fish options out there if you are going to splurge on this type of item.
Choose beans, legumes, or quinoa
For protein without going over budget, choose beans and legumes instead. You can make plenty of tasty meatless meals which are even better for your overall health. Buy the dry kind to avoid excess sodium and to save even more. Quinoa is also a great source of protein and as easy to make as rice. When you buy it in bulk it is much more cost effective than meat, and can be used in a wide variety of recipes, eaten alone, or topped with veggies.
Buy fresh, local, and seasonal
If you really want to save money, buy what's fresh, in season, and local. There are so many superfoods out there, but the best way to nourish your overall health on a budget is to make use of the bounty of freshness around you. As long as you're eating more fruits and vegetables, you're improving your health and reducing your risk for expensive long-term illnesses. Take time to stop at the local farm stands you pass when you’re out and about during the nice weather months – you will find that not only are the prices the best you will find, but the produce will be freshly picked and packed with nutrients.
Buy frozen or canned to round out your meals
Whether you're too far from the store or have a tight budget, stock up on frozen or canned vegetables. Frozen is ideal since they lock in all the vital nutrients, but either one can be used in tasty soups, stews, and for side dishes that come together in just minutes when you're in a pinch. I always try to buy organic if I need to use something canned because the cost is usually within 20¢ of the conventional options.
Most people get take out, or eat out at restaurants because they perceive it to be easier. Not only does this impact your wallet when done on a regular basis, it can also impact your health over time.
Once you leave the excuses behind and start making your own healthy meals, you'll start seeing those savings. And with those savings and better health, you might just be ready for an epic vacation when summer rolls around!