Is eating healthy an affordability issue for you? Are you having qualms about justifying the cost of organics? Here are some tips on how to kick the processed foods and starting eating more whole foods… without blowing your savings.
Real, whole foods have a stigma of being expensive and prep-heavy. It can also be intimidating to try and work with foods and techniques that you have never been introduced to. If you’ve been eating frozen pizzas, cereal and boxed pasta your whole life, trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of kale and a bag of quinoa could be pretty stressful. What you need to do is take it slow, and keep it simple. Follow these tips for easy ways to incorporate more whole foods and save some money:
- Shop and Chop.
One of the biggest complaints about buying fresh fruits and vegetables that people have is that they just sit in the fridge and go bad. One way to combat this issue is to prep out your fresh fruit and vegetables right when you get home from the store, before you put them in the fridge. Wash and chop up your greens so they are ready to be made into a salad or sauteed. Chop up your mango or pineapple so that it is ready to go for snacking (or to throw into that salad).
This same idea can be applied to other foods. Make a big pot of quinoa or beans at the beginning of the week and you will have enough for multiple meals. You can even freeze some for a later date. Then all you have to do is pull out your frozen beans, thaw them and reheat.
Not only will this cut down on meal prep time later, it will also make these foods more attractive to you — you will be more likely to eat them if you don’t have to do the prep when you are hungry. So you save money because you are actually eating the food before it goes bad, and you are saving time.
- Make flexible shopping lists.
Instead of writing down specific produce to buy, make a flexible shopping list. Write down that you need some sort of leafy green, plus another vegetable and 2 fruits. Then when you get to the store, you can see what is on sale and buy that. This can also introduce more variety into your diet. Maybe papaya is on sale and you’ve never tried it.
- Cruise the frozen aisle.
Buying frozen vegetables and fruits can be more cost effective, especially when those things are not in season. There is nothing wrong with eating frozen foods. They can actually be more nutrient dense than their fresh counterparts because they are frozen when they are at their peak freshness. Fresh produce if often picked before it’s fully mature and can travel from halfway across the world before it gets to you.
- Think big with protein.
This applies mostly to animal proteins. This is one area where you don’t want to skimp on price. It is important to buy high-quality, grass-fed meat that has not been treated with antibiotics or hormones, and organic whenever possible. They way you can save money here is to buy larger cuts, but also eat smaller portions. For example, instead of just buying chicken breasts, buy a whole chicken. It will cost you less per pound and it will last several meals. You can also freeze what you don’t eat for future meals.
- Bulk up.
If your store has bulk bins, take advantage of them. You can buy many staple ingredients there for cheaper than the pre-packaged versions. You can find protein sources here, such as beans, which are much cheaper than animal protein. You can also find lots of whole grains, nuts and seeds here.
- Stay local and seasonal.
If you can go organic with all of your produce, focus on staying local and seasonal. Local, seasonal fruits and vegetables are cheaper because there is usually a larger supply and they don’t have to travel as far to get to you. They will also be more nutrient dense.
- Sip water.
Packaged beverages, like juices and soda, can put a huge dent in your grocery bill. Just drink water instead!
And remember, when you are purchasing whole foods, you aren’t just paying for a meal. You are also paying for energy, long life, happiness and a healthy body. With processed foods you may pay less up front, but there could be serious costs down the road. Costs not only in medical bills, but also in quality of life.