7 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget (Easier Than You Think)

Is healthy eating more expensive? Let’s get this out of the way: healthy eating doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, healthy eating can be as well Cheaper from the purchase Overly processed, additive loaded Canned food. Unfortunately, the general public thinks that health means cost. But often, this isn’t the case. So why are we so conditioned to believe that healthy eating is not budget friendly?

Part of the problem is that we confuse “healthy” with other labels like organic and gluten-free. Just because a box of cookies (or artificial candy) is gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s nutrient-dense or inexpensive. The other problem is that health food can be associated with high priced health food stores. But in fact, a healthy diet is built Whole, unprocessed foods (Think fruits, beans, nuts, etc.) which can be found at very reasonable prices in most grocery stores.

Featured image of Aishwarya Iyer’s kitchen by Michelle Nash.

Michelle Nash’s photo

While yes, a Big Mac is cheaper than a pasture burger and a gas station soda is cheaper than an organic vegetable juice, the same idea works in reverse: a fried chicken sandwich is more expensive than a banana.

Different foods have different prices – not all healthy foods are expensive and not all unhealthy foods are cheap. This misunderstanding is dangerous to our health and well-being in general.

photo by Soroshi Avasti

Social inequality in our food system

All that said, health and social status are closely linked. Systemic health and social inequality Disproportionately affecting racial and ethnic minorities and the poor. That is, these groups are more likely to consume traditionally grown ingredients (because of factors such as price, access, and knowledge). Ultimately, this means that low-income families are among the highest consumers of processed foods and fast food.

At its core, accessibility is one of the hardest pieces of the puzzle. Access to healthy choices—as well as access to rigorous education about healthy eating—is polarizing.

According to the 2012 USDA reportSome research suggests that neighborhoods made up primarily of lower-income ethnic minority groups have limited access to supermarkets compared to more affluent, predominantly white neighborhoods. More and more studies indicate that food deserts It is now up for discussion. Such as Scientific American reportsSince these areas are not completely devoid of food, some believe a more accurate description would be to identify them as “fresh food deserts” or “healthy food deserts”.

But while researchers debate about semantics, it’s safe to say that AAn entire ecosystem – from farm to store or supermarket – has a long way to go.

Michelle Nash’s photo

blue areas

Interestingly, research indicates that the world’s richest countries (indicated by GDP) are not necessarily the healthiest (indicated by life expectancy). blue areas Identified as having the longest life expectancy and longest lifespan. A few of these cities are Ikaria, Greece, Okinawa, Japan and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. But what is common in these areas is what They eat: minimal amount of animal protein, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, olive oil, seeds and nuts. In other words, economical food.

How can you eat healthy on a budget?

There are several ways to stick to your budget while still making nutritious and delicious recipes. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to keep your grocery bill down while still providing your family with nutrient-dense food. Ultimately, it’s about planning, comparing options, and knowing what’s the best bang for your buck.

Michelle Nash’s photo

meal plan

Planning your meals can help you avoid buying packaged items you don’t need or buying fresh vegetables that may spoil. Meal planning also helps you avoid eating out on a regular basis. Look for two recipes to prepare it (breakfastAnd the SnacksAnd the dinner sides), check your pantry to see what you already have, and then make your own grocery list.

By planning, you’ll spend less money and waste less food. Plus, meal planning Ensures that your refrigerator is pre-stocked. win, win.

Compare options

Among e-commerce stores such as The market is booming And the BrandlessIt’s always worth taking a few minutes to compare prices. You can also sign up for grocery store apps (ex sprouts) to see what is for sale. Doing some homework can help you stay within your budget. Another way to compare is to think of the serving size.

While a bag of potato chips costs less than a bag of sweet potatoes, those sweet potatoes will likely yield more servings.

Michelle Nash’s photo

Buy in bulk

Speaking of sweet potatoes, buying in bulk can be more economical. In essence, buying in bulk is cheaper because it costs manufacturers less to sell the item in larger quantities. I like to buy ingredients like nut butters, lentil-based pastas, olive oil, and organic meats at Costco. Some of the cheapest ingredients to buy in bulk are beans, rice, frozen vegetables, and bananas.

Emphasize whole foods

As a helpful rule, shop around the perimeter of the store first. This will make your shopping cart more likely to be filled with fruits, vegetables, and protein. In other words, whole foods.

Usually, most of the processed and unhealthy foods are placed in the middle of the store. However, when you’re mid-store shopping, check the top or bottom shelves for your ingredients. The most expensive items are usually placed at eye level.

while processed foods tend to be Less expensive of most fresh foods, because the US government subsidizes producers of those major ingredients (such as corn and wheat). This, in turn, helps keep crop prices down. However, processed foods and many packaged foods have added sweeteners and a higher fat content, along with sodium and other preservatives. On the other hand, whole foods contain a wide range of nutrients – such as vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body needs to function optimally.

Michelle Nash’s photo

Shop from the frozen section

Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts, are less expensive, and available year-round. They are picked and packed at their peak ripeness and freeze-dried to seal in nutrients (and flavour). Since the shelf life is much longer, you can extend the use of frozen fruits or vegetables. Frozen products are usually sold in large bags, allowing you to use only what you need and keep the rest in your freezer.

Michelle Nash’s photo

Choose what’s in season

While buying frozen berries in the winter is an easy way to consume Immunity-boosting antioxidantsBuying fresh berries in the summer will do the trick, too. In other words, buying frozen fruits and vegetables during the off-season is just as beneficial as buying the same product during peak harvest. Eating with the seasons It is more economical. When produce is in season, there is abundance. In turn, it is available at a lower price.

Think local

Produce grown close to home costs less money, resulting in a lower total cost when purchasing. Additionally, when you support local farmers and growers, that money stays in the community and thus helps stimulate local economies.

This post was originally published on June 28, 2021, and has since been updated.

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