15 Practical Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget
Eating healthy on a budget is not as hard as some people think, it just takes a little creativity. Here are 15 tips to help cut back on your grocery bill while still making your taste buds dance for joy! (That's right they were dancing not jumping.
- Grow your own organic food.
Having an organic garden has numerous benefits. You aren't just getting super cheap produce but the healthiest, too. When fruit and vegetables are picked when they are ripe and consumed right away, they not only taste better but have loads more nutrients than grocery store produce which has to be picked weeks in advance. Plus, tilling a garden is good for the soul! You have much more appreciation for the food you eat when you grow it yourself!
- Chew your food!
This is perhaps the most underrated money saving technique. It takes less energy for you to chew the food in your mouth than if your stomach has to break it down, meaning you get more energy off of less food. The more you chew your food, especially green leafy vegetables, the more you breakdown the cell walls, releasing nutrients and enzymes. This allows your stomach to focus on properly assimilating the nutrients in your food instead of worrying about breaking the food down. The more digested the food is by the time it reaches the stomach, the more you will get out of each bite.
When you're eating healthy on a budget, chew your food slowly. If you aren't in a race to scarf down your food, you will naturally enjoy it more. It's kind of hard to enjoy your food when it's in your stomach. Chewing your food until it's a smoothie-like consistency requires more presence then just chewing it enough so it doesn't hurt when you swallow it. Whenever I'm lost in thought I notice I'm eating much quicker, and not enjoying my food to the fullest extent. The slower you eat, the sooner you will feel full.
- When you eat, just eat.
If I have distractions around me while I eat, like watching television, I don't notice my food as much and I tend to overeat. It's like the experience of eating is in the background of my awareness instead of focusing all my energy on the act of eating. When you are entirely focused on eating your body will be, too. In other words, your body will be focused on extracting all the essential nutrients out of the food without having to divert energy to watching TV or reading the paper. When you are entirely focused on one thing, you will do it better.
- Notice when you're actually hungry, instead of just craving for food.
Lately, I have begun to notice when I crave for food when I am actually not hungry. This is not my body telling me it needs energy, but my mind telling me it wants to taste something good. It's my addictions of the yummy taste of food that is manifesting.
America is not getting all of these chronic diseases because we are undernourished, many Americans literally eat themselves to death. Overeating, even of health foods, puts an unnecessary strain on our digestive organs and grocery bill.
- Eat at home.
Stock up at the grocery store and make most of your meals at home. Here at healthy-soul.com we have lot's of delicious natural recipes to help get you started! Making food is an art, but you get to eat it afterwards!
- Remove meat and animal foods from your diet.
Animal-based foods are in truth junk foods, they are extremely lacking in essential nutrients and have too much protein and fat. A vegan diet is not only much healthier, but cheaper as well. A meal of rice, beans, and veggies costs less than a hamburger. At Trader Joe's, you can get 5 bananas for a dollar. If you're hungry all the time it's because you aren't getting enough nutrients from the food you eat. Real food fills you up quite easily for a good price.
- Buy lots of bananas and oranges.
Where I live, bananas and oranges are by far the best bang for your buck. Gram for gram, bananas are the cheapest and have the most calories (with a large amount of nutrients) to fill you up. I have found some great deals on oranges, sometimes between 33-50 cents a pound. Take advantage of whatever fruits are cheap in your area.
- Buy overripe bananas and other produce and freeze them.
Some grocery stores just throw away their overripe produce. Talk to a store manager about purchasing their overripe produce at half price or less! Buying overripe produce and freezing it can save you loads of money. I've even been offered overripe fruit for free! Frozen, overripe fruits are perfect for smoothies where you won't taste the texture. If you have a food processor, you can make 100% fruit ice cream!
- Check out the frozen food.
When you're eating healthy on a budget food, frozen produce can be a lifesaver. Expensive, delicious fruit, like blueberries and strawberries, can be much, much cheaper than buying them fresh. At Costco I recently bought a 5 pound bag of blueberries for 5 bucks! That's at least 3 times cheaper than buying them fresh. (No Costco card? No worries, see below). Another benefit is the food is usually frozen right after it's picked where it's at its peak nutritional content, just make sure there are no icky added preservatives.
Don't rely on frozen food to be cheaper! I have seen fresh spinach for a dollar a pound and frozen spinach for almost twice that! Be aware.
- Eat more raw food.
When food is cooked, 50-80% of the nutrients and ALL of the digestive enzymes are destroyed. The more raw food you eat, the less food your body needs for optimal functioning, because you're giving your body high grade fuel.
Whenever I eat raw food, I fill up much faster. When I eat cooked food, sometimes it feels like I'm not that full and I just keep eating, and eating, and eating. So buy raw nuts instead of roasted nuts.
Beans, although you may cook them, are much cheaper to buy when they're dry and raw, they just take longer to cook.
- Soak and sprout nuts, seeds, and grains.
When you soak or sprout nuts, seeds, or grains you raise the nutritional content up 300-1200%! Soaking helps predigest the food and release enzyme-inhibitors allowing your body to easily assimilate these foods. Instead of cooking your oatmeal, try soaking it in water overnight (plan ahead!) and heat it up to your desired temperature. Only prolonged heat kills the nutrients, warming your food up does not.
- Don't buy bottled water!
Eating healthy on a budget and buying bottled water is like oil and water. Bottled water is about the biggest waste of money you could ever get caught up in, tap water is around 10,000 times cheaper. Forget about the environmental aspects of buying all that plastic, it's way cheaper to just buy a water filter. They cost $20-30 and last a good, long time. If you like water bottles just keep reusing the same one. I promise, it won't go bad.
- Buy produce from a farmer's market.
Organic produce from a farmer's market is often very competitive with chemically grown foods of grocery and health stores for the simple reason of the elimination of the middle man. This produce will also be much higher in nutrients and taste as it doesn't have to travel far to get to you and can be picked when (near) ripe.
- Use sunflower seeds instead of nuts.
Sunflower seeds are much cheaper and have less fat than nuts. They sell a pound of raw sunflower seeds at Trader Joe's for $1.69. You can add them to trail mix, drizzle them on salads (I love 'em on salads), or add to your smoothie for some extra protein.
- Buy nuts, tooth paste, toilet paper, and other items that slowly perish in bulk at Costco (even if you don't have a card!)
Just because you don't have a Costco card does not mean you can't shop there! Just fill your shopping cart and approach a nice looking person in line and ask if you can use their card. I tell the person in front of me to say to the cashier, "he's with me." The Costco employees don't seem to think twice about it.
Eating healthy on a budget just requires you to be aware. Be aware of the prices of the food you eat. When it's on sale, stock up. Be aware of new ways you can save money on food like buying overripe fruit or buying food in large quantities and freezing for later.
You don't have to be rich to eat healthy, you just have to be a little smart. Because I'm eating healthy on a budget I compare expenses to their equivalent in amazing health foods. For instance, I would rather buy some blueberries and raspberries than a 12 pack of beer.
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