As Food Costs Rise & Budgets Tighten You Can Still Eat Healthy
Have you ever used the excuse that you just don’t have the money to eat right?
Well, I’m here to say that you do not have to sacrifice quality in order to save money. Below you will find tips to integrate into your daily life that will keep you and your spending healthy.
1. Eat Less Meat (aim for 2 meatless meals a week)
The average American already eats more meat than is necessary to meet the body’s daily protein needs, therefore this may just be the easiest way to save money. While I am not advocating switching to a vegetarian diet, I am suggesting that you limit your meat consumption throughout the week. Make meat an accent piece to your meal rather than the main attraction. Replace half the meat in a recipe with vegetables. It’s true, no matter how you count it, buying organic, grass-fed, free-range, pastured, or hormone-free animal products costs more but paying a little more for higher quality meat and eating less of it is a great way to balance out the cost. If you are concerned about where to get your daily protein from – try eating quality beans, eggs and fish instead. And check out Meatless Monday for recipes, tips and more.
2. Eat Out Less (aim for 1-2+ home-cooked meals a week)
Reducing your meals “out” by 1-2 times per week can save you $10-$30+/week. When eating out, ask for a to-go container (or better yet, bring your own) and take half of your meal home with you for leftovers.
3. Cook From Scratch
This not only supports savings, it ensures high-quality nutrients and loving energy in the food you consume. Think of cooking as an adventure! Many of your favorite foods at restaurants can be made at home. You don’t have to be a master chef. Simplicity is equally delicious. Have fun with it. Your health is worth it!
4. Buy In Bulk
Bulk doesn’t mean buying 25 pounds of rice and beans. Buying bulk saves you money and packaging waste. I store mine in mason jars. Bulk items do take a little more consideration when it comes to prep and cook time but it will definitely be worth the savings monetarily. Cook these items in large batches and save them in your refrigerator and freezer for quick, nutritious food whenever you need it.
- Beans – Canned beans are fine, but dried beans often taste better and are significantly cheaper. Beans naturally contain phytates, which inhibit absorption of important minerals, therefore, if using canned beans, rinse and drain thoroughly. Dried beans are best soaked overnight, drained and rinsed, and cooked with kombu seaweed. (Lentils are an exception to the soaking rule. They will turn mushy if soaked overnight.)
- Grains – Even organic grains in bulk are pennies per serving versus their prepackaged counterparts. Grains also contain phytic acid, therefore must be soaked and rinsed before cooking. Adding a splash of raw apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice will also help “pre-digest” the grains to make the nutrients more available to your body. (Variety is Key – try Quinoa, Millet, Buckwheat, Amaranth, and Unrefined Rice varieties.)
- Dried Fruits, Nuts & Seeds
- Bulk Meats – Check out Local Harvest, EatWild, and CleanFish for good quality protein sources near you.
5. Buy Local
Farmer’s Markets are popping up everywhere. Fresh picked produce has higher nutrient content and much more flavor than grocery store varieties. Mix and mingle, talk to the farmers. Ask them about their growing practices.
More and more farmer’s markets are even accepting food stamps and EBT. Some farmers offer discounts for volunteering. Harvest time is a great time to see if local farmers will give you a discount for bulk purchases, then gather the troops and plan a weekend of canning and preserving.
Find a farmer’s market near you at Local Harvest
6. Join A CSA
CSA’s (community supported agriculture) give you the opportunity to receive a weekly share of a local farm’s harvest of organic fruits and vegetables. Some may even include meat, eggs, dairy and other such sustainable food options.
Find a CSA in your area at Local Harvest CSA
7. Eat In Season
Seasonal foods are often less expensive, better tasting, more nutritious and readily available as they don’t have to be shipped thousands of miles. Seasonal eating offers you an opportunity to try new foods and new recipes – work with what Nature lovingly provides.
Find out what is in season, when, in your area with this Seasonal Food Guide
8. Grow Your Own
Growing vegetables is actually relatively simple and doesn’t require loads of space. If you are in an urban setting, wondering how you can possibly grow your own organic goodness, check out this great blog I discovered, Earth First
9. Eliminate Processed Foods
Processed foods may seem cheaper but you lose out significantly when it comes to nourishment and satiety. When you consume the empty calories of a processed food item, you end up feeling hungry for more, when in reality, you are hungering for REAL food and nutrients.
What are you really paying for? Ask this question next time you pick up an item at the grocery store or order something at a restaurant. What kind of impact does this have on your health in the long-term?
Healthy eating does not have to be expensive, but unhealthy eating may cost you your health!
Make small shifts to support your budget and your health now!