Yes, You CAN – Eat Healthy on a Budget!

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For a long time, I’ve subscribed to the belief that you can eat healthy on any budget. Though I still believe that to be true, I have recently come to realize that it’s a lot easier said than done.

I was preaching that message from the top of the mountain. Well, I’ve been in the valley for the past 10 months, and my perspective has changed.

There is no better teacher than the experience of walking a mile in another man’s shoes.

After moving to Florida last year my income dropped significantly. That’s when I had the epiphany that it’s much harder to maintain my lifestyle on a budget.

Suddenly, I had to decide between gluten free bread and whole grain; organic and non-organic; cage-free or regular eggs.

I was forced to reevaluate my lifestyle. Initially, I made the cheap, less healthy choices. But that took a toll on my health and my weight.

That’s when I began to ask myself the tough questions. How much was I willing to compromise for my health?”

My decision was I want to live a healthy lifestyle by any means necessary. So, I had to figure out which compromises I was willing to make. When you have a limited budget, it’s important to make every dollar count.

I realized I may not be able to buy the volume of things I normally bought, but I could make some changes and get the same results.

So, here are some simple things you can do to live healthy on a budget.

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1. Eat what’s in season – when it comes to buying fruit and veggies, this is the biggest budget savings. Foods that are in season are always much cheaper. Have you noticed how much cheaper it is to buy watermelon in July than it is to buy it in December? That’s because it’s not in season in December. Become familiar with which fruits and veggies harvest at what time of year. Right now, it’s the best time to buy apples. They’re in harvest.  They will taste much better and are a lot cheaper. In fact, this is the time of year I can actually afford to buy organic apples. There are several websites that can help you find out what’s in season. Here’s a link I used - https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org

2. Purchase more sustaining foods – when you can’t buy as much food, you have to be selective about the foods you buy. You don’t want to waste money on unhealthy, nutrient deprived foods that won’t sustain you. I’m forced to make better choices. I can either spend $3 on a bag of kettle potato chips, or that same amount on six sweet potatoes. Obviously, the sweet potatoes are the better value to my budget and my health.

On the flip side, avocados may be a little more expensive, depending on when you buy them, but their value far outweighs the expense. They are high in fiber and rich in nutrients. They’re considered to be a healthy fat, so they keep you full longer. They also contain antioxidants, so you will have amazing, glowing skin.

You just have to know how to buy them. You want to buy them with varying degrees of ripeness. Buy a couple you can use right away, and some that won’t be ripe for at least another 3 or 4 days. The harder they are, the longer it takes them to ripen. You want them squeezable if you plan to eat them right away. If you don’t understand how to buy them you end up wasting money because they all ripen at the same time, and you can’t possibly eat them all. Ultimately, if you make better food choices, you will be more nourished and you won’t have the desire for chips and cookies.

3. Choose different brands – often times we have certain brands we prefer because of our history of use or brand recognition. More often than not, preferred brands are more expensive. So, when possible, shop the store brand or a less popular brand. Just make sure the ingredients are the same. For example, I prefer to buy Silk or Blue Diamond Almond Milk, but the store brand (Winn Dixie, Trader Joes, Publix, Walmart, etc.) will be at least a dollar cheaper. Yet, it’s the same exact product.

4. Shop at alternate locations – if money isn’t a factor, I’d much rather shop at Whole Foods or the local natural foods market. These stores offer a quality and fun shopping experience for me, but that usually comes with a price. Whole Foods has the variety of whole, organic produce that I prefer, but I have to pay a premium for it. So, an alternative is to go directly to the source and shop the farmer’s market. This is great when you live in an area that offers a really good, affordable farmer’s market. It saves you save A LOT of money.

I had the BEST options when I lived in Atlanta. But now that I’m in Jacksonville, FL I don’t have a good farmer’s market. At least nothing that I believe compares to what I had in Atlanta. However, I’ve found a great alternative in Aldi’s. It’s a much cheaper grocery store that offers so many organic options, and at very low costs. They also offer a good variety of organic fruit and veggies. It’s a semi-traditional grocery store environment, with farmer’s market prices.

5. Distinguish between luxury and necessity items – one thing this year has shown me is the difference between what I want and what I need. A lot of things I’ve enjoyed buying in the past were just things I liked, but didn’t need. For example, I enjoyed a good plant-based protein powder. That little indulgence typically cost me anywhere from $12-25 depending on the brand. So, I’ve chosen to temporarily cut that out of my diet.

At this point, I think I’ve made my own case for the fact that you CAN eat healthy on a budget. You just have to be strategic and you have to be committed to living a healthy lifestyle. It’s a little harder to do, but it can be done.

Just remember – you’re WORTH it!

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness

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