In today’s podcast, Kim and Tony talk about how to eat healthy without breaking the bank. When you switch your diet, you may not be familiar with the options available to you, so it becomes tempting to resort to expensive “healthy” packaged foods. That’s not necessary. You can eat healthy on a budget if you pay attention and know where to shop.
Become More Familiar with Preparing Simple, Filling, and Nutritious Foods
Get comfortable with making simple, affordable meals at home. You can get a pound of millet for $2 or $3. It’s filling, rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein, and cooks in about 16 minutes. Make it while you make some vegetables and have it instead of ramen noodles or pasta.
There’s a misconception that organic food is expensive, but compare it to the pre-packaged, processed foods (not even the healthy ones), and the produce is cheaper.
Look at What You’re Drinking
Add a bottle of water to your meal and that’s $2. A coffee might be $4. Reuse your glass bottles. Fill them with water, brew your own iced herbal tea and take it with you, or make lemonade with water, lemon juice, and stevia. When you cut the amount you’re spending on beverages, you free up more space in the budget for healthier foods. Listen to the beverages podcast for more healthy options.
Consider Your Cost Per Meal
Eating out at work can be at least $8-$10, plus the cost of a drink. Preparing a meal and taking lunch to work is much less expensive, more satiating, and healthier. It leaves you energized instead of tired when you have a good lunch.
Where You Shop Makes a Difference
Some stores have more upscale pricing, but give Costco, Trader Joe’s, supermarkets’ organic sections (which sometimes have sales and are competitively priced), and farmers’ markets (especially during closing time, when you’re likely to get a better deal) a try. You can also buy some things in bulk online for much less. Plan ahead and make your weekly grocery trips. You can buy a bunch of organic bananas for not much more than you’d pay for one inorganic one at Starbucks in a crunch.
Planning ahead for a nutritious, energizing meal that digests easily takes a little more mental energy at first, but as that becomes a habit, your body will continue to reap the benefits while it takes less mental energy. It’s also expensive to be tired if you consider the constant pick-me-ups you need (between the $4 coffees and vending machine visits).
Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
- Sweet bell peppers
They also listed collards and kale. These are the top 12 items to avoid buying commercially. You can avoid about 80 percent of pesticides by buying these organic.
- Sweet peas
- Sweet Potatoes
You can save money on these without exposing yourself to tons of pesticides. For example, a mango at Whole Foods may be $2, but you can buy the inorganic ones elsewhere for much less. Knowing this list can help you figure out where to source your food so you can save money.
Spend your money on groceries and make yourself a meal at home. When friends invite you out, you can say you’re just having tea or you just want a small salad. This saves money but still allows you to go out and socialize.
Join a CSA
A CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, which allows you to buy a share in a local farm and pick up a bag of the produce each week. You get what’s in season, and it fluctuates based on different crops and conditions. CSA produce can be the core of your diet (it’s inexpensive), then you fill in the staples around that. This also allows you to support local farmers.
Focus Your Attention and Resources on What’s Important
Individually, these changes seem small, but they can add up to hundreds of dollars of savings per month. The changes become part of your healthy lifestyle over time, and it becomes easier.
Focus your attention and resources on the things that are most important to you. Nourish yourself and your body and it will help everything in your life feel aligned. You’ll feel focused and energized.
Eating this way is also fun and a chance to plan ahead and be creative. And yes, you can even travel like this to avoid spending too much in airports, on road trips, at music festivals, etc. Just plan ahead, pack it up, and take it with you.