I would have to say the most common excuse I get from people about why they can’t lead a healthy lifestyle is -“healthy food costs too much.” Granted, there are some healthy options that are more expensive, especially organic foods, but my objective with this week’s blog is to challenge that line of thinking with evidence to the contrary.
One of the reasons I was inspired to write this blog is because I’ve made a lot of changes in my life in the past few months, including buying a house and switching jobs. With the house comes additional expenses, and leaving the private sector to work for the government brings its own set of financial adjustments as well. So, in this season of my life it’s very important for me to live on a budget.
I have grown accustomed to shopping at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Sevenanda and the like – all of which are a bit more expensive. However, I have always considered them worth it because my health is important to me, and following a vegan lifestyle I am very particular about what I eat.
Since I’m watching my spending – and I refuse to compromise my health – I’ve had to come up with some alternatives that allow me to maintain my lifestyle. Truth be told, it has become a rather fun challenge for me. I’ve always loved a good bargain – I love shopping in thrift stores and consignment shops. For me, the best part is telling people how much I saved on whatever items I do purchase.
So, as I was doing my grocery shopping I realized this is a perfect opportunity to share with you some strategies to eat healthy, plant based, whole foods on a budget.
Here are 7 ways to Eat Clean on a Lean Budget:
1. Buy frozen veggies – they are just as good as fresh veggies in the produce section, but a lot less expensive. Just avoid the veggies in sauces and cheese. Keep it simple.
2. Buy the store brand whenever possible. The generic Kroger or Publix brand veggies are the same as those from Green Giant. Just check out the ingredients —they read the same.
3. Shop at discount stores because many of them offer healthy, name brand options. I cannot tell you how surprised I was to find that Wal-Mart carries Quinoa. Not only that, but they carry the SAME brand I buy in Whole Foods, but it’s more than $1 cheaper. I typically spend about $3.50 -$3.99 for Quinoa; the bag I bought in Wal-Mart was about $2.60.
4. Shop the farmers market. This is one of my favorite things to do for so many reasons. Obviously, it’s helping the farmers; it’s fresh, and much cheaper. You’re avoiding the extra overhead costs the supermarkets factor in to the cost of food.
5. Buy what’s seasonal. When buying fresh produce, look for what’s in season. If you buy food that’s in season it’s a lot cheaper. You ever notice how much more it costs to buy something like watermelon outside the summer months. Now you can get it for about $4.99, but if you get it off season, you can pay anywhere from $7-$8!
6. Buy beans and peas in the bag instead of those in the can. Overall, you’re getting a much better value and they’re healthier. I am not a fan of canned food, but the only thing I will buy in cans is beans (black beans, pinto beans, and garbanzo). Honestly, I didn’t want to take the extra time to cook them. But they actually digest better when you cook them. So, I’ve decided to stop buying canned food. Buying the bags of beans and peas, is a much better deal. So instead of buying an eight ounce can for 99 cents, I bought a 20 oz bag for a little more than two dollars, which produces a lot more beans than the two servings in the can. You cook them once a week and have enough to eat for at least three days.
7. Buy high fiber foods – they keep you full longer and you require less of it. High fiber foods have less refined sugar; refined sugars and hydrogenated oils increase your appetite, and therefore increase your spending on food. Also, a lot of processed food contains food additives that interfere with the chemical in your brain that tells your body it’s full. Certain additives actually inhibit that chemical from telling you you’re full, so you constantly feel hungry. When you buy genetically modified, processed food, it’s appears cheaper on the surface, but it’s costing you more in the long run. You have to consume much more of it to feel full, and you pay for it in healthcare costs because of all the illness and diseases it triggers, i.e. diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, etc.
Now that you’ve heard some of the things I’m doing to eat healthy on a budget, I’d love to hear from you. What can you do to eat healthier on a budget?
Until next time…
Peace, Love & Fitness