A whopping 20 percent of Canadians can’t afford their homes according to a study released this week. And, I’m sure this statistic is comparable in the US and other developed countries right now. The report went on to state that these people frequently chose unhealthy food options because they believed them to be cheaper and felt they couldn’t afford to eat healthy. So in my effort to help everyone who is watching their money (isn’t that just about everyone these days?) I have compiled some of my favorite ways to eat healthier on a budget.
1. Double or triple your normal recipes and freeze the leftovers. You’ll dramatically cut down the cost of buying prepared and packaged foods. And, you’ll eat healthier when you’re tired or in a pinch for time.
2. Use seasonal fruits and vegetables as much as possible. When food is in season it is cheaper. Plus, you’ll be doing your part for the environment by eating more locally grown food.
3. Watch for sales. Plan your meals around some of the cheaper sale items you find.
4. Add more beans to your diet. Beans are not only the “magical fruit” they can work magic on your budget since they are super nutritious and cheap. Dried beans can be cooked effortlessly overnight in a slow cooker. Place 1 cup dried beans and 6 cups water in a slow cooker before going to bed and cook on low overnight. Drain and rinse in the morning and they are ready for use in your soup, stew, chili, salad, or other recipes.
5. Eat more vegetarian meals. Meat tends to be more expensive (not to mention takes a higher toll on the environment and your body).
6. Take a page from the chef’s notebook: use mirepoix as a base for many soups, stews, and rice dishes. Mirepoix is a fancy-sounding French word simply means chopped onions, celery, and carrots. These are among the cheapest vegetables and they add lots of flavor to your meals.
7. Shop at your local farmers markets instead of grocery stores as much as possible. Most farmers’ market food doesn’t have the built-in costs of lengthy transportation, distributors, warehousing, and other costs. Plus, the food is fresher and frequently more nutritious, and eating locally is better for the environment.
8. Grow your own sprouts and herbs. Growing your own sprouts is much easier than you think. Not sure how? Click here for my article on how to Grow Your Own Sprouts.
9. Buy seasonal produce in bulk and freeze it. From berries to sliced peaches, to chopped green and red peppers, many fruits and vegetables can be frozen.
10. Hit the bulk bins at your local health food or grocery store. Here’s where you’ll find the lower cost whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, and flour. They’re usually substantially cheaper than their packaged counterparts. And, less packaging is good for your wallet and the planet.
11. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. You’ll find the fresh, healthier options there. The center aisles are primarily reserved for the packaged, convenience foods that tend to cost more and be full of dangerous additives, trans fats, and sugar.
12. Make your own snacks. Prepared snack foods are not only full of junk ingredients that you should avoid, they tend to be expensive. Make a batch of cookies, muffins, or other snack food with wholesome natural ingredients.
13. Plan ahead. A few minutes of planning the meals you’ll make and your grocery list can save you plenty of cash on impulse purchases you’ll be less likely to make.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be costly. Most of my clients have always been surprised to learn how inexpensive health eating can be.
Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook.