Easy Ways to Eat Healthy on a Tight Budget
“I want to eat healthier, but it’s too expensive. I can’t afford it.” I hear this almost every day.
Now, I know that buying 1,000 calories of Cocoa Puffs is cheaper than buying 1,000 calories of fresh vegetable or pasture-raised meat. And if you are trying to support you and your family on limited funds, it can be very difficult to choose a fresh avocado at $1.29 each instead of the gooey green, pre-packaged and preserved “avocado sauce” that probably doesn’t contain an ounce of avocado.
There is no doubt that we live in a broke food culture. It’s not always easy to walk into a grocery store and choose salad greens and fish and ignore the miles of aisles filled with chemically manufactured foods.
But this doesn’t mean that you can’t make better food choices and eat healthy on a budget. Yes, it may mean changing your habits and priorities a bit, but I assure you that the results will be worth it.
Here are a few tips to help you eat healthy when you are on a budget. Follow them, and you’ll find that eating well is much easier, cheaper, and more delicious than you thought.
>Make your food budget go further.
These days, it’s easier to stretch your food dollars than it’s ever been. The Internet has made discount shopping available to most folks. Try shopping online for food bargains. Many online vendors carry the same brands seen in grocery stores for discounted prices. And be sure to purchase several items to take advantage of free shipping. Also, you can sign up for coupons for your local stores online.
> Prioritize Eating Healthy.
The fact of the matter is that most people don’t make eating healthy a financial priority. Look, I’m not going to tell you that you should give up all your luxury purchases so you can buy better food. But I do think it’s worth it for you to take a look at how you’re spending your money and ask, “Am I really supporting my health and meeting my personal goals this way?”
Many people spend lots of money on expensive coffee drinks, popcorn at the movies, chocolate bars, and more. They are spending more than $15.00 a day on these kinds of things and then say that they can’t afford to eat healthy. That’s just not true. They have the money to eat healthy; they simply choose not to.
How you spend your money is your business, and if that cup of coffee from Starbucks is a luxury you feel you can’t live without, so be it. But at least look at how you’re spending your hard-earned cash. I think you’ll find that there’s more money in your budget for eating healthy than you initially realized.
>Be a Mindful Shopper
We all sometimes get caught in that “zombie shopping mode.” It’s the end of a long day. You just got off work and need to go pick up your kids from daycare, but first you must stop by the store for some groceries. That trip to the market may be the only “down time” you get all day. So, you walk in and zone out. You head to the middle aisles of the supermarket, and scoop items into your cart almost mindlessly, like a zombie.
If you want to eat healthy on a budget, I recommend you become a mindful shopper. Try making your trip to the grocery store an interesting adventure. Become fully aware of the dazzling display of foods around you. Realize that you are hunting and gathering the foods that are going to nourish the minds, bodies, and spirits of your entire family.
Then, keep your eyes peeled for healthy deals. For example, you can buy vegetables or meat that’s on sale and freeze it. Seek out the bulk aisle of your supermarket or local health food store and see if you can get nuts, seeds, and specialty items like quinoa on the cheap.
> Buy in Bulk
You can also join a local wholesale “club” like Sam’s. Many of these mega-markets carry fresh, organic vegetables and pastured meats these days. If you can’t afford the membership yourself, split the price with a friend or family member (or several), so that you can take advantage of discount prices on healthy foods.
Stores such as Casco and Sam’s sell fruits, veggies, and meat in bulk. This kind of shopping allows you to save some money, and you can cook as you need to. It also allows you to buy according to your pay period, ensuring that you have the nutritious foods you need as you get closer to your pay check and money becomes a little tighter.
Also, check out the frozen section of your grocery store, especially if you live in an area where access to fresh vegetables is limited. While fresh is best, frozen fruits and veggies run a close second, and you can often purchase these items at discount prices.
> Go Local
Many people think that shopping at the local farmer’s market is more expensive than buying food in the grocery store. Find a local farmer’s market and talk to the farmers. Ask if they have special prices for buying seasonal vegetables in bulk. Getting local, organic, seasonal food is healthier. It helps you develop a closer connection to the foods you are consuming, and it’s often less expensive. You can freeze what you don’t eat, share it with another family, or learn how to preserve the food at home.
By following these tips, you can eat healthy on a budget. And remember, when you shift away from highly-processed carbohydrates and sugar-filled foods toward healing vegetables and pastured meat, your appetite will naturally diminish. You will not be as hungry if you eat healthier, which means you’ll eat less, save more money, and lose a few pounds in the process. Paying attention to what you eat and how you spend your money is worth it in every sense. You will have more energy and vitality, you’ll heal your body naturally with the healthy fats and proteins in these foods, and you may see your mood, memory, and cognitive function improve as well.