Written by Sondi Bruner.
When someone tells me that healthy eating is too expensive, I always wonder if they’ve ever tried it. Is it cheaper to buy crappy, processed foods compared to fresh fruits and vegetables? Nope. In fact, a recent study proved that when you measure nutrient density, rather than cost per calorie, healthy foods are far less expensive than fatty, sugary and salty gunk.
Sure, if you spend your days guzzling raw coconut water and slicing fresh mangoes, your food bill is going to rise. But there are plenty of ways to save money at the cash register – and here are a few of my favourites.
1. Eat real, fresh, whole, unprocessed food.
When companies put food into a package, there are additional costs for manufacturing, processing, marketing, advertising, staffing, transportation – and we're paying for all of that.
Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy anything that’s wrapped in a package. Some things, for sanitary reasons, need packaging. You wouldn’t want to pluck loose frozen fruit from a grocery store freezer. That would be gross.
Items like frozen fruit, frozen veggies, rice, nuts, dried fruit and beans are often okay to buy in packages – but remember to check labels. If you’re buying rice, you want the label to say ‘Ingredients: Brown Rice’- nothing else.
2. Choose real food that also happens to be cheap.
I’m not naïve. There are plenty of expensive healthy foods out there. There are also many, many inexpensive whole foods.
Generally, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, spinach, apples, cabbage, bananas, sweet potatoes, oats, eggs, beans, lentils, brown rice, zucchini, cucumber, squash, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, green peas and lettuce are all inexpensive options. You might think these foods are boring, but they're incredibly nutritious! So eat them, okay?
Focusing on those foods, instead of pricier items, will allow you to create a lot of delicious meals for a fraction of the price.
3. Cook food from scratch.
Ever buy a cup of coffee? The price is exorbitant compared to what you’d spend per cup if you made the same thing at home.
The same goes for soup, sandwiches, salads, hamburgers, muffins, bread, or any other convenience food you buy instead of creating in your very own kitchen.
Homemade meals are always less expensive than eating out or buying pre-made foods. With packaged meals, you often only get enough food for one meal. When you make food yourself, for the same price you can cook enough to last you for several days. For example, a big pot of chili or a stew can last you all week.
Believe me, if you can read, you can learn to cook. All you need to grasp is a few good, flexible recipes that you can change up depending on your mood, what’s on sale, or what you need to use up from your fridge before it spoils. Need some inspiration? Check out some of Meghan's fab recipes.
Question Of The Day: How do you eat healthy on a budget?