Lately I’ve heard a lot of this: “I want to eat healthy but it’s so expensive!”
I do agree that there are some things that are more expensive to buy than their processed alternative, but I’m going to make the case here for how you can eat healthy, whole foods inexpensively and without breaking the bank. I got a chance to pick the brain of Rebecca Scritchfield, a registered dietician from Washington D.C., while I was at the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in Denver last weekend.
Here are some of her suggestions and you might just be surprised at some of it! I know I was! Especially with this first one.
- Buy frozen fruits and veg. The foods that are frozen are picked at their peak condition, says Rebecca, so you know that you’re getting some quality goods there. Fruits are picked ripe and there are constantly sales on store-brand frozen veggies. Even if there aren’t, they are not that expensive. A dollar or two for four servings of vegetables? Not bad at all.
- Buy canned veggies. Before you smirk, think corn, beets, chick peas, maybe not canned green beans because those get mushy (although I actually like those). Rebecca says, when you prepare them, be sure to rinse the sodium off of them.
- Go for the frozen meals, but read your labels on calories, fat and sodium and choose ones that you wouldn’t normally make on your own. Ps. Ever make them and eat them and find that you’re starving 5 minutes later? Rebecca says add veggies to your frozen meals, but don’t stop there. Have a salad beforehand (dressing on the side) and then some fruit afterward. You’ll actually be full off of that.
- Do a little math. It may seem like the “easy” foods are cheaper but did you know that canned salmon per ounce is less than hot dogs per ounce? And (as delicious as hotdogs are) salmon is much healthier. You can add it to wraps and salads and pasta, or grill it on its own. (Check out Rebecca’s post on protein costs per pound.)
- Which leads me to the next one, eat less meat. Get your protein in by making things like tuna salad and tuna casserole (with whole ingredients). Add soy crumbles to pasta, use beans, or my new favorite friend, LENTILS.
- And finally, this is my own tip that I’ve learned along the way: don’t stockpile the crap. I know it’s tempting to buy those bogos and have a pantry stocked full of food for months and months, just in case the world goes into a meltdown, but here’s where that fails for me. First of all, lots of things that have a really, really long shelf life has a very good likelihood of being full of chemicals and preservatives anyway. (Edited to note the inexpensive exceptions! Like beans and rice, whole grains and pastas! Initially, I was thinking of my former need to buy bogo because it was ON bogo, things like terrible cereals and low-fat sugary granola bars with preservatives! So I’m editing to note, don’t stockpile just for the sake of stockpiling because it’s cheap. Stockpile because it’s GOOD.) I say this about stockpiling because how often do you throw out entire boxes of food from your stockpile because you haven’t eaten them by the use-by date? You don’t? Oh, you’re much better than me. I end up throwing out entire boxes of graham crackers or whatever it is that I got on bogo because we never got to it. I have found that when you buy what you need for the week, you eat it. You eat just what you need and no more and no less. You are more likely to finish it because you don’t want to waste it. (Except for bagged salad. For some reason, I have tossed perhaps a million bags of salad on account of forgetting about it.) Anyway, less shelf time, less chemicals (again, in most cases, not all). More yummy whole foods. More vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Less wasting money on a stockpile that just gets tossed. You’re saving your dollar for quality, whole foods.
Ps. feel free to factor in the costs of health care – deductibles, co-pays, medications, etc – money you can save in the long run just for simply having a healthy shopping list today. It all counts!
Rebecca was just featured in a Washington Post article about debunking popular summer myths like “Will watermelons grow in your stomach if you eat the seeds?” “And do you really have to wait 30 minutes after eating to swim?” so be sure to check that out!
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