Healthy on a Shoestring

Basket of ProduceThere is a common, though unfortunate, belief that health eating costs too much money. I’m here to tell you that eating healthy meals is entirely within your reach. Here are some tips to keep your grocery bill low.

Shop locally
Explore your local farmer’s market. Organic foods tend to be less expensive when bought locally. Foods that are in season are usually better quality and lower priced than out-of-season produce that is grown in hothouses. Keep in mind that you don’t have to shop all in one place. If one store has a particular food cheaper and another store has other foods cheaper, go to both places and stock up on what you need.

Eat semi-vegitarian
Organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat is always your healthiest option for animal protein, but it is costly. To reduce your costs, include meat for only one meal a day and incorporate other sources of protein – beans, whole grains and eggs – in the other meals. Experiment with what combination works most effectively for your body.

Run a “kitchen sweep”
Once a week or so, restrict yourself to creating a meal from what you already have in your kitchen. It is a great time to be creative – making a stir-fry from the produce and whole grains you have, adding a leftover piece of chicken (chopped) to stretch it further. You may need to be more creative, but it is a great way to clean out … as opposed to throwing out food later.

Buy frozen
For some reason, we may consider frozen produce less nutritive, but this is untrue. Not only is frozen produce often less expensive than fresh, it is often flash frozen to retain more nutrients than fresh fruit or vegetables.

Plan your meals
Before you do your weekly grocery shopping, make a meal plan. This will enable you to shop for just the ingredients you need and not spend money on unnecessary items or impulse buys.

Cut back on restaurants and delivery
Eating out can add up to a significant expense over time. The less you order out, the more money you’ll save. Yes, I’m talking about lunch (pack leftovers), snacks, dinner … even your morning coffee. Preparing your own meals ensures that you know exactly what’s going into them, making it that much easier to follow a healthy eating plan.

Still think you can spend less buying packaged foods? The tally on your grocery bill may be lower initially, but when you are buying processed foods made from non-nutritive, government-subsidized ingredients and cheap chemicals, you won’t be fueling your body. And you are more likely to be paying for medical care later as your body is compromised by lack of nutrition.

Pay now … or pay later … you can do better!

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