Eating well on a budget
The lower your income is, the more difficult it seems to be particular about what you feed your family. This probably isn’t an earth-shattering revelation to anyone, but if you feel like experimenting, try to buy a week’s worth of healthy food for a family on a budget of, say, $100. Food manufacturers that target lower income shoppers with more affordable products tend to include more GMOs and toxic ingredients in their offerings.
Many people just quit trying to eat healthy because it costs a lot, but it is actually very do-able within a meager budget if you’re smart about it. If you think about it, spending a little more on good quality food is insurance for your future. You’ll get sick less, you’ll have less missed days at work, you’ll cut down on medications or expensive health treatments when you’re older.
It is a matter of prioritising: if you chose what is appropriate for your body and the health of your family you are investing in your health. As a matter of fact: you either pay for proper food or you will pay a health practitioner to help you regain your health…
Generally speaking do your best to avoid:
- Non-organic dairy because of the hormones and antibiotics as well as the GMO feed given to the animals
- Non-organic meat because of the hormones and antibiotics as well as the GMO feed given to the animals
- Anything containing corn, soy, or canola in any form because it is almost certain to be GMO
- Anything with chemical additives like artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- Anything that is likely to have been doused in pesticides
- Anything containing neurotoxins like MSG, fluoride, or aspartame (along with other artificial sweeteners)
It is a matter, then, of weighing the pros and cons, and figuring out what things, for you, are the most important, while also deciding which standards can be sacrificed. These decisions will be different for everyone, based on their personal health concerns, their genetic propensity for certain diseases, and the members of the family for whom they are buying the food.
Having said that there is still lots of room for improvement:
1. Make your own
There are a ton of things that most people buy at the grocery store that are so easy and cheap to make yourself. The bonus in making this stuff yourself is that there are no additives, preservatives or other weird chemicals included in it. For example, making your own peanut/almond butter, mayo, hummus, broth, almond flour, coconut milk and almond milk is very easy and doesn’t take long! Invest in a relatively inexpensive yogurt maker.
2. Join a food coop and / or community garden group
There are more and more food coops that offer organic food at cost price once you join (annual membership is usually $25-50).
3. Go meatless 1 or 2 nights a week
If you aren’t vegetarian, meat can be very expensive, especially if you source good quality grass-fed, humanely raised meat. So, if you switch out 1 or 2 dinners per week with a vegetarian meal, you can end up saving good money especially if you switch it out for something like lentil soup. Bulk lentils are very cheap
4. Buy in bulk
Although buying in bulk can be a little difficult because it requires a large payment up front, it will actually save money in the long run.
There are many food coops that also allow for bulk shopping on request. Another way to go is doing your research (via Greenpeace and other food lists) to see which supermarkets (e.g. Aldi) stock good food that you can bulk buy.
This is the whole idea behind costco. If you buy 30 rolls of toilet paper at a discounted price now, it will cost less than if you buy a small pack every week. Costco is a good option, but it can be tricky depending on what area you live in. Some costcos may not have anything of use to a real food family because they do have a lot of processed foods and CAFO dairy and meat that you wouldn’t want to feed your family anyway. However, even costco is starting to come around to real food and some locations have a lot of good healthy foods.
5. Order online
Sometimes bulk purchases end up being cheaper on sites like ebay or gumtree. You can often buy things like coconut milk or epsom salts online because they are cheaper than in the stores and it’s delivered to your door!
6. Cook at home
Going out to eat a lot can really add up fast. Eating at home is the best way to save money and make sure that you’re getting the best quality food. If you often eat out try weaning yourself off bit by bit. Pick 1 or 2 days to go out and plan the rest of your weeks dinners so you know what you’ll be having and what to get at the grocery store.
7. Utilize your freezer – reduce your waste
Freezing meals or certain foods can save a lot of money and time. For example, if you make a huge pot of soup to last the week, it may end up going bad and getting thrown out towards the end of the week. If you keep half of it in the freezer, you can serve it the following week as leftovers!
If you buy canned foods like beans, making a huge batch of dry beans at home and freezing part of them instead of buying cans can save you money too.
Whenever you make foods like rice, beans, soup or broth make a huge batch and freeze half of it, because you won’t be able to eat all of it before it goes bad and It will be there ready in the freezer when you need it next.
It is a bit harder when you have a small freezer, but try to be smart about utilizing all the space in your freezer.
8. Eat Seasonally
Knowing what food is in season when is a great way to save money. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are always cheaper than food that are out of season. Another easy way to do this is to shop at your local farmer’s market. Local farmer’s always have what’s in season because food that is not in season is usually imported to grocery stores and therefore pricier
9. Preserving by Canning/fermenting/pickling
Make fermented vegetables like carrots or sauerkraut. It’s a good way to preserve food and it provides you with tasty probiotics!
Canning it, is definitely a great way to preserve seasonal food. For example, if you buy organic tomatoes in season they can be as little as $1 a pound, but out of season they can run as much as $4 a pound. So, if you buy a bunch of food that is less expensive when it’s in season and either can or ferment it, it will last you much longer.
10. Grow your own garden or herbs
Did you know that in some cases herbs in the grocery store have a 2800% markup? That’s crazy! So, if you regularly buy herbs at the grocery store considering getting a few herb plants to keep on your window sill. Growing your own garden can be a little more difficult if you don’t have a yard like me. Try seeing if there’s a community garden you can plant in or keep some potted plants around.
11. Meal Planning
Meal planning is a great way to save money. It helps waste less food, cut down on last minute trips to the store or eating out and it ensures that you’ll eat healthy every day, but the small downside is that it takes a lot of work and planning to do your own meal plans.
Core Naturopathics sourced this article from the following 2 sites: