So you think you can’t afford to eat healthy. Well, I’m here to tell you that with some planning and a few concessions you can afford to eat healthy organic food. Yes, YOU!
I’m saying this from experience. A few years ago I abruptly found myself as a divorced broke single mom. It challenged me in every way imaginable, including financial. So I get it, I do. But eating well is an investment in your future. An investment that is worth it!
Eating nutritious unprocessed food keeps you healthy so you can work and care for your family.
being healthy keeps you out of the hospital and away from expensive sick days. Those add up real quick!
Think of Filtered Living (toxin-free/reduced living) as an investment in every part of your life.
So to prove clean eating can be done on a budget, here are my 12 simple ways to eat healthy on a budget.
1. Plan, plan, plan
The best thing you can do to make healthy eating a budget friendly endeavor is by planning. Design and prep a week’s worth of menus over the weekend.
Use a trick we used in the restaurant industry and incorporate a handful of ingredients into a variety of dishes. For example buy a whole organic chicken. On one night make a roast. The next day use the leftover meat for another dish. Then use the bones to make a delicious soup. Easy-peasy!
Planning will also keep you from overspending at the market and save you trips to the store (saving you gas too). Oh and take your calculator to the market. I do this on every trip, so I’m never surprised at the checkout.
2. Make as much as you can yourself
Get in touch with your inner chef. With so many online recipes and tutorials even the worst cook can make a great meal. Cooking your own food means you’ll know exactly what’s in your food. It’s also cost-effective.
3. Only cook what you need
This goes back to planning. Don’t cook more than what you need. Calculate the portions and make enough, but not too much. Waste is basically throwing money away, and you don’t want to do that.
4. Buy in bulk
Another great trick is to stop at the bulk section of your store. Well stocked natural stores will offer a ton of options in bulk. And they are often the same brands you buy in the packages, only much cheaper.
I’ve started buying all my rice, legumes, nuts, and seeds in bulk. As a bonus, you can also control what you spend. If you only want $2 of rice you can weigh it out yourself, whereas if you buy a package it’s going to be pre-set for you.
5. Buy produce that’s in season
If you’ve been budgeting you should already know that when food is in season it’s much less expensive. So learn to shop seasonally. Stock up when organic produce is cheap and freeze your excess for later in the season. I love this personalized Seasonal Food Guide by Sustainable Table; you can choose your state and time of year to see what’s in season now.
6. Fill up on inexpensive organic grains, beans, and rice
This a trick of budgeted families far and wide, beans and rice for dinner! I love this because you can really play with the flavors and add all sorts of nutrient dense goodies.
I make basmati rice (better for blood sugar and less arsenic) with a ton of inexpensive garlic (superfood) and fresh (detoxifying) cilantro.
Then I whip up some garlicy black beans with bell-pepper, cumin, onions, and kale. Everyone loves it, including my four-year-old.
Yummy, cheap, and very healthy.
Add a fresh side salad and you have an amazing vegetarian dinner that will add tons of nutrients to your body.
P.S. Always remember to properly soak your beans for 12-24 hours before cooking! Check out this post for more on Why You Must Soak Beans Before Cooking.
7. Use meat sparingly and buy cheaper cuts
There are a lot of good reasons to cut back on meat. Although quality meat does have a place in a healthy diet (check out my Clean Eating for Beginners plan) people still eat too much and usually the worst kind.
When you do buy meat always look for less expensive options.
I used to buy only organic chicken breasts but when I became a divorced single mom I switched to organic chicken legs. I can get a pack of 5 meaty legs for only $3.50 at Trader Joe’s, versus to $10 I’d spend on two organic breasts.Fast food costs more per meal than most organic whole foods based meals made at home. How much is your health worth? Click To Tweet
8. Make use of leftovers
This also goes back to planning. Your leftovers can make a great meal.
Those beans I mentioned. Add some organic corn tortillas and they make great quesadilla the next day. Or make a fresh salsa and pair with some blue corn chips and fresh guacamole for yummy (and healthy) nachos.
Avoid throwing away your leftovers. Just make sure to refrigerate properly and reheat your food properly before serving (yeah, I’m trained in food safety–8 hours of how food can kill you will make anyone a bit paranoid–what can I say).
9. Try farmer’s markets and show up at the end of the day
Many farmer’s markets offer discounted produce at the end of the day. I’ve found many stands are happy to barter so as to sell what might otherwise spoil. You’d be surprised how often this works.
And if you are an EBT holder (food stamps/SNAP) many farmer’s markets now take EBT. Just look for the stand where you buy “tokens” with your EBT card. A win-win for both the consumer and the farmer.
10. Take advantage of Costco
Ah Costco, how I love thee.
Yes local is best BUT if you are on a budget this is a lifesaver.
These days Costco is offering more and more organic options. From organic chicken and eggs, to organic produce to grass-fed meat, I’ve found a variety of goods at Costco. The prices are usually less per item than even Trader Joe’s or at online shops.
If you don’t have a membership ask a friend who does to join you so you can buy what you need. Just remember to bring cash as the membership must match the debit card. Invite them over to one of your awesome meals as a way to say thank you.
Bonus tip: And if you don’t have Costco (or if they don’t carry something you want) try Vitacost.com. This online health foods store seriously saves me like between 20%-50% from what I’d pay at Whole Foods or a similar place. It’s a great place to get pantry staples, spices, vitamins, herbs, essential oils and supplements…plus they ship super fast! Use this link and get $5 off!
11. Skip bottled drinks
An easy way to cut spending is to skip the bottled drinks completely.
You already know soda and bottled juice have no place in a healthy diet, so why not skip the bottled drinks completely?
You can brew your own black tea for iced tea, make lemon water instead of sugary lemonade, and–gasp–brew your own coffee. Crazy talk right! You’ll save so much and be able to spend that money on actual (healthy) food.
12. Grow Your Own
Ok, before you declare me totally insane just hear me out. It is possible to grow foods and herbs in even a small space. Whether it’s a balcony, patio, or small apartment you can grow some of your own food.
Gardening is a skill I highly recommend everyone learn. You never know when tough times will hit and having even a small garden can make a tremendous difference.
There are tons of resources to get started. Read The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible for all the basics or the The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible if you have a small space. Check out the You Grow Girl blog for TONS of Gardening ideas and resources. It’s not that hard to grow your food, and you’ll save so much money with just a little investment of time. Plus how cool is it to say you grew it!
There ya go! I hope that was helpful and proves that you CAN afford to eat healthier. You can afford to live Filtered.
If you want to read more about specific budget friendly foods read my posts Simple Nutrition: Why You Should be Loving Bananas and Simple and Affordable Nutrition: The Humble Carrot.
What about you? What did I leave out? What budget friendly tips do you have? Share in the comments below.
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IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: None of the health topics presented on Filtered Family have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. They should not replace personal judgment nor medical treatment when indicated, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always talk to your naturopathic physician or M.D. about the use of these or any other complimentary modalities. Reading this website denotes your understanding and agreement to our full disclaimer.
http://nutritionfacts.org/video/putrefying-protein-and-toxifying-enzymes/ (retrieved 08/31/2015)
http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-reduce-carcinogenic-bile-acid-production (retrieved 08/31/2015)