Along with regular physical activity, eating healthy is the key to disease prevention and aging gracefully. I’ve studied healthy eating for a long time. Although the trends have changed over the years, it has always been a challenge to eat healthy on a budget.
I love to cook. I haven’t always, especially when my kids were younger. With hectic schedules, it was harder to find the time and energy to cook and it was so much easier to order a pizza or rely on convenience foods, fast foods or dining out.
But now that we are down to the two of us AND I know so much more about how unhealthy all those conveniences were, I have learned to love cooking.
I have also learned how to cook healthy on a budget. It does take some planning and effort, but believe me, it’s totally worth it!
If you have been through my free 10 Day Whole Person Detox Program, I don’t have to tell you why it’s so important to choose carefully what you put in your mouth, on your body or in your environment.
You have to be responsible for your personal toxic load, and when you are, you also help the ones who live with you. That said, here a few tips to help you to eat healthy on a budget.
Taking the time to plan your weekly meals and grocery list before you go shopping is the most effective way to save money.
Planning and having the right foods on hand also keeps you from reaching for something unhealthy when you are really hungry.
I created a meal planning worksheet, Create Your Own Meals, that breaks it down and simplifies the process. It still takes time, but it is a powerful way to manage your healthy eating lifestyle.
Create Your Own Cookbook
When planning out your weekly meals and grocery list, it saves time to have a reference. You can create a cookbook personalized to what you and your spouse/family enjoys eating.
These recipes can be found online, on Pinterest, or in magazines. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Just start paying attention and when you see something you want to try, print or tear it out and place it in a plastic sheet protector that you can then put into a 3 ring binder.
Almost any recipe can become a healthy recipe just by swapping out regular, unhealthy ingredients with ingredients that are fresh, organic, wild caught, grass fed, etc…Again, refer to the free 10 Day Whole Person Detox Program for the best choices.
Make Your Meat go Further
Grass fed and grass finished meat and wild caught seafood is going to typically be more expensive, period. So make them go further by using less and mix them with other healthy ingredients, such as fruits and veggies, and organic whole grains.
Stir-fry’s are a great example of this. Instead of cooking up two breasts of organic chicken, use one cut up and added to a variety of veggies and stir fry in organic coconut or sesame oil. Then serve over organic rice. Either freeze the other breast for another meal or make a double batch and freeze the rest for later.
Another way to stretch your meat is to use it in soups and casseroles.
Shop local and in Season
Produce is cheaper, fresher, and ultimately more nutritious when you buy it in season. You can use this seasonal food guide to find out what’s in season.
You buy fresh, in season produce and freeze it for later. When available, check out your local farmers markets, join a CSA (community supported agricultural program), pick you own, or buy directly from growers in your area.
Learn what’s Healthy AND Inexpensive
Certain foods are healthy and inexpensive. These are foods to always keep in mind when looking for a new recipe to try or to have on hand to add to your meals.
They include sweet potatoes, cabbage, zucchini (have you tried zoodles yet?), carrots, lentils, split peas, quinoa, oats, and nutritional yeast.
Don’t Forget About Frozen Foods
When you can’t buy local, your next best bet is frozen. The vitamin content of the frozen fruits and veggies is comparable to and occasionally higher than the fresh versions.
In addition, they are often affordable and convenient with a long shelf life. The only downside is the texture in some frozen produce may suffer.
Learn to Love Leftovers!
When possible, make extra and refrigerate or freeze for later. This gives you a quick, delicious and nutritious meal when you don’t have time to cook.
Also, eating leftovers instead of going out for lunch is a great way to maintain your healthy eating lifestyle and save money.
Plus, scientifically, food tastes better the next day because more amino acids are released over time which enhances the savory flavor of a dish.
Store and Rescue Properly
Don’t let your produce go to waste! You can re-hydrate wilted greens, like romaine, kale and bok choy, as well as carrots and celery by soaking them in cold or icy water for up to an hour.
In fact, carrots and celery are best stored in water in a sealed container in your fridge. As soon as you get them home, cut off the greens and put them in water. Be sure to change the water every few days.
If you have purchased organic greens that have become wet, don’t store them without putting a paper towel in the bag or container to dry them out. In fact, just do this right away when you get them home. It’ll absorb the excess moisture to keep greens crisp and prevent wilting.
Finally, store garlic and onions separately. These should be stored in sealed containers instead of wrapped in plastic wrap. Their strong scent can be passed on to other foods because they emit gas. The gas is harmless to us, but not so great for other foods and can expedite their spoilage and alter the flavor.
The Number One Reason All This Matters!
Want to know the number one reason to make healthy food planning, prep, storing and eating a priority? In the long run, doing so can help save massive amounts of money on medical bills!
Do yourself a favor, avoid processed convenience foods, fast foods and dine out less often. You may save more than money, you may save your life!
Debra Betterly, PhD is an Integrative Wellness & Life Coach and Metaphysician whose passion is to help women expand their health, joy and purpose in midlife and beyond.
You can join her free Midlife Mastery “Inner Circle” and receive your free gifts HERE
Her free “10 Day Whole Person Detox Challenge” is offered as a body, mind, Spirit approach to holistic health. Learn more HERE