One of the biggest roadblocks in trying to eat healthy is the cost. With Certified Organic often running double that of conventional products, the price of wellness is not seemingly cheap! But there are some strategies that can be employed to make healthy eating attainable for all budgets.
How to Eat Well on a Budget - 10 Tips:
1. Shop Local
Shopping at local farmer's markets and roadside stands are great ways to get high quality for a fraction of the cost of grocery store chains. With the help of greenhouses or warmer growing locations, many markets are open year round.
Get to know your area farmers
While many vendors may use conventional growing methods, there are many others that follow organic practices but may not be able to advertise as such due to the cost of obtaining organic certification. By talking with your farmers, you can foster a relationship with those that share your values and support local business while increasing your wellness on a budget.
2. Shop Seasonal
If you shop local, you will most likely be shopping seasonal as well. Choosing produce as it is in season not only cuts cost, since vendors won't be passing high transport costs on to you, but also means you are most likely getting the freshest, naturally ripened foods available.
3. Eat More Veggies
Pound for pound, organically grown meat is many times more costly than organically grown veggies. As such, this cost difference means we often go without meat and opt for more plant-based meals.
4. Shop Discount Stores
If you don't have access to farmer's markets, look for organic foods at your local discount grocery stores. There are quite a few chains out there that have jumped on the organic bandwagon and are consistently increasing their inventory. The quality may not be as pretty as conventionally grown, and you may have to dig for the best selection, but the price is decent and can stretch your dollar a little further.
5. Grow Your Own
Another great option to eat well on a budget is to grown your own produce. This doesn't have to mean becoming your own home farmer. It can be as simple as a few potted plants on your front steps, or a few fruit trees in the backyard. You'd be amazed how much produce can be grown in a tiny area, with very little maintenance.
6. Make More Vegetable-Based Protein Meals
There are many great options for plant-based proteins that are not only delicious, but healthy as well. Steer clear of most processed meat-substitutes though! They are often loaded with sugar, preservatives and other junk that is worse for you than eating conventionally raised meat!
Look for Special or Buy Today Meats
Not ready to eat more legumes, nuts, seeds, or sprouted grains? Many grocery stores will discount organic meats that they need to get rid of that day. Look for these specially marked "Use or Freeze by" meats and stock up when they are available as it's often hit or miss when they get marked down.
7. Buy in Bulk and Freeze, Can, or Freeze Dry
Family or bulk packs are a great way to cut costs. They require just a bit of extra effort to portion them out and prepare them for longer storage, but it's worth the effort. Freezing, freeze drying, and canning are great ways to increase your food storage, while saving your budget. And if you prep whole meals while portioning out your bulk packs, you can save yourself loads of time throughout the rest of the week as well.
Go In on a Whole Animal or Half Side with Friends or Family
Buying in bulk isn't only at the grocery store! For high quality meat at a significant cost savings, consider going in on a whole or half animal with friends or family. You have the advantage of working directly with your farmer as well, to ensure the meat was raised to your standards. This option often requires a large freezer for storage.
8. Follow the Clean 15/Dirty Dozen
Another way to cut costs when trying to eat well on a budget is by following the Environmental Working Group's annual Clean 15/Dirty Dozen list. This is a list of the top 15 fruits and vegetables with the lowest pesticide load, in other words, that which you can choose conventionally grown, as well as the top dozen produce in which choosing organic is a must due to high pesticide load in those conventionally grown. Note: This list does not adjust for genetic modification.
9. Join a Co-op
Co-ops or Cooperatives are a great choice for those that are willing to be flexible with their produce and possibly willing to try new foods. Co-ops are offered by farmers or organizations and usually involve paying ahead to guarantee your spot for a growing season. You pick up your box or bags usually on a weekly or monthly basis at a central location with other co-op members, and your choices depend on the growing season and produce availability.
10. Raise Your Own
Similar to growing your own fruits and veggies is the option to raise your own meat, eggs, and milk animals. While this does require a significant time commitment and an initial set-up investment, it is truly the only way to ensure your meat meets your production standards.
And there you have it. Do you have any other tips or tricks to share in how to eat well on a budget?
Luke 14:28-30 ESV
"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?"