You motivate yourself to fill the pantry with healthy foods, drive to the store ready to fill your shopping cart then all of a sudden you see the expensive prices on the healthy food items and lose your momentum. It can be difficult to eat healthy when you’re working with a limited budget. Pick up your head and walk away from the cheap snacks, these 10 tips will help you eat healthy on a budget.
1. Shop the Produce Aisle Like a Chef
Look for fresh, local, in-season veggies and fruits, which are often considerably less expensive than those flown in from another hemisphere or trucked across the country. Shop several types of stores, from supermarkets to farmers markets, to green grocers, to the corner store to increase the odds of finding good deals on healthy, fresh foods.
2. Kick ‘Convenience’ Foods
Studies show that convenience foods cost more than whole ones and are less nutritious – so steer clear! All that manufacturing, packaging, trucking, shipping and advertising doesn’t come cheap, you know.
3. Keep It Real
Healthy foods are real foods – and none of them come out of the ground with nutrition labels! If it comes in a box or bag labeled with more than 3 – 5 ingredients, leave it on the shelf. Also, if you can’t pronounce or easily identify the ingredients (no matter how few or many there are), you’re better off without them.
4. Mix It Up
If eating all-organic, all-the-time is too pricey, then eat of mix of organic and non-organic foods. When it comes to foods like broccoli, spinach, apples, tomatoes, etc., try to eat organic most of the time to minimize your exposure to pesticides and toxins, and to ensure the most nutritional bang for your buck.
5. Shop With the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen List
One of the easiest ways to save money on organic produce is to shop the aisle with the Environmental Working Group’s ‘Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen’ list in hand or on your phone. The list lays out which fruits and veggies you should always buy organic and which ones you don’t need to.
6. Embrace the Frozen Food Aisle
A great place to pick up fruits and veggies is in the frozen food aisle. Frozen foods, be they organic or otherwise, are picked at their peak so they retain much of their nutritional value and are ready anytime to toss into stir-fry dishes, soups and casseroles. Unlike fresh produce, they won’t spoil, which will save you money in the long run.
7. Fortify Meals Frugally With Inexpensive Fermented Foods
Like their frozen food cousins, fermented foods are fantastic money savers because they last for months in the fridge, so there’s little spoilage or waste. Better yet, fermented foods are excellent for supporting the health of your gut, are simple to make and taste delicious – they’re the total package!
8. Shop Around
Like the song says, ‘you gotta shop around’ to get the most nutrition for your buck. To keep costs in check, track the cost of your go-to foods and staple items with help from a shopping app so you can easily compare prices between local supermarkets, farmers markets, green grocers and ‘big box’ stores.
9. Take Advantage of Discounters
A cost-conscious patient recently shared her secret source for healthy food bargains: discounters Costco, TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshall’s, where she often buys her organic and non-GMO Project certified staple items like chia seeds, flax, quinoa, coffee, teas, coconut sugar and nuts.
10. Share the Good Stuff
Another way to get your share of healthy produce for less is to join a food co-op. You can also buy a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership and split costs with a neighbor. For low-income individuals, many CSAs offer low-cost memberships, making access to healthy food easier regardless of income.