We’re all told to eat healthy. It’s probably the most common knowledge in our modern society… So why doesn’t everyone do it?
It’s most likely for a few reasons. Maybe we don’t know what’s healthy. If this is the case, you should read our article on why to eat Unprocessed Foods as opposed to following a processed diet. But for most of us, it’s a matter of convenience, and price. Today, we’re going to talk about some different ways that you can mitigate the issue you’re having with the affordability of eating healthy, and some ways that you can help with the convenience as well.
Step 1: Plan Your Meals:
Deciding what you’re going to eat for the week prior to its beginning can be essential to maintaining an affordable and healthy diet. When you begin to practice meal planning, it can seem daunting and time-consuming, but you’ll quickly see that it’s a great time-saver if you give it a chance.
Just make sure that you cook in batches large enough to portion out and freeze leftovers. Glass containers that are both good quality and sealable are a major advantage here, and if you take good care of them, they should be a one-time investment.
This also involves planning when it’s a good idea to eat at home, and when you can afford to eat at a restaurant. This may seem complicated but eating at a restaurant is vastly more expensive than eating at home. If one of the barriers to eating healthy is a lack of funds, then eating at home could be the step that gets you to your healthy diet.
Step 2: Make A Shopping List and Stick To It
Shopping is one of the places where it’s possible to either save money or spend more than you need to. Planning ahead by making a shopping list is one way to avoid the latter. If you do make a shopping list, make sure you stick to it. This can make saving money and sticking to your commitment to eat healthy much easier.
[One great trick is to eat before you go grocery shopping, as you’ll tend to make less-impulsive decisions when walking through the aisles, and it’ll be easier to stick to the shopping list you made.]
Step 3: Buy Unprocessed Foods & Avoid The Junk
As laid out in our previous article, processed foods are hyperpalatable (easy to over consume) and when it comes to heavily processed foods, they often contain things that we don’t want in our bodies. If this wasn’t enough of a reason to motivate you to lean in the direction of unprocessed or lightly processed foods, they’re also often cheaper.
Take shredded cheese for instance. You’re paying much more than you would for a block of cheese, and you’re getting less food in the container. Even pre-cut fruit is more expensive than its whole alternative and is often less fresh. Do you have cereal in your house? It’s much more expensive than having steel cut oats or porridge in your house. Processed foods generally increase your cost and give you less quantity and quality than their less-processed alternatives.
[This means no more pop, cookies, chips, prepackaged meals, etc. But it also means you save more money and remain healthy]
Step 4: See A Sale? Get Friendly With Your Freezer!
Fairly often a grocery store will have a sale on certain things that they’ve overstocked or undersold… This is a great opportunity for you to save some money, and to stock up on some great food. If you’ve got a freezer at home, you can take advantage of these events when they happen.
On the freezer note, often frozen fruits and vegetables will be much more reasonably priced than their fresh alternatives, but this isn’t a bad thing. Just because it’s frozen doesn’t mean it’s less nutritious.
Taking advantage of lowered prices on less-expensive cuts of meat is another option available to you. Fresh fish and meats can be expensive, but many cuts of meat are priced more reasonably. Organ meats like kidney, liver, heart, etc. are much less expensive than muscle cuts, and have a much higher nutrition density as well. These might seem less desirable, but they can be diced and mixed in with ground beef, vegetables, or mixed with rice to make them more palatable if you struggle with them.
Step 5: Shop In-Season and Utilize Non-Meat Protein Options
Many of us love meat, but it can be expensive, so it might be a good idea to go for the non-meat protein alternatives for a few days out of the week. Eating proteins like legumes, hemp seeds, eggs, or even canned fish instead of meat can be much more affordable. Another upside to these is that they often have a long shelf-life, are nutritious, and are easy to prepare.
Shopping in season is something that humans used to be forced to do out of necessity, but it’s actually something we should probably be trying to move towards again. Most produce generally tastes better, is fresher, and is much more affordable when it’s ‘in-season’. What does this mean? It’s the time of year when that produce is usually harvested and is most plentiful in the grocery store (supply and demand). Buy by the bag if you can during this time, as it’s much cheaper and more convenient than buying individually. If you stock up heavily you can also freeze any extra produce you pick up.
There are many ways to eat healthy while sticking to a tight budget, and junk food tends to cost you 2-times. Once in your bank account and once in your health. Even if eating healthy was more expensive (which it doesn’t have to be) it would still be worth it in the long run as you really can’t put a price on health. Hopefully this helps you on your healthy-living journey, and as always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions!
1. Adda Bjarnadottir, MS. 19 Ways to eat healthy on a tight budget. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-ways-to-eat-healthy-on-a-budget Published June, 2017. Reviewed July 4, 2019.