6 Ways to Eat Healthier Without Breaking the Bank
Wellness for your body and wallet
Eating cleaner and greener doesn’t mean spending your entire paycheck in the organic section at Whole Foods. You also don’t have to make expensive trips to your local nutrition store. You can very easily find incredible options at your regular grocery store or online. Let me show you the six ways I am able to buy all our fresh produce and supplements while staying on a budget.
1. Not everything has to be organic
Eating a healthy diet means eating real and fresh food (nothing that comes out of a window or is heavily processed, fried, or seasoned). Many assume that eating “clean” means purchasing only organic products, which can put people off since it’s a significant price hike from the conventional selection. Then, many tend give up on changing their diet for the better before they even start. It’s time to debunk this myth. The key to starting a healthy diet is to focus on fresh food over anything processed (whether it’s organic or not).
Once you‘ve made the effort to freshen up your meals, the next step would be to familiarize yourself with the organic items you should purchase and this list will help you. The “dirty dozen” is a list of the 12 produce items that have the most pesticide residue, which are toxic chemicals that can cause havoc on our bodies.
Even as a health coach I use this list to guide me when I am grocery shopping. Our current household budget doesn’t allow for 100% organic but we do the best we can with what we have and what our local grocery store has in stock. Bottom line: always go for fresh over processed and use the “dirty dozen” list to help you pick the most important organic items.
2. Frozen is a great option
Frozen veggies and fruits are great for stocking up your freezer to make quick meals, delicious smoothies, and yummy desserts. They are fairly inexpensive and will help you reduce waste since they won’t spoil. Plus, you’ll be spending less time cooking because they are already chopped (just make sure the only ingredient on the label is the vegetable).
Toss the frozen vegetables into a pan with some fresh garlic to defrost. Then, add a tasty sauce (store bought teriyaki or make your own: my favorite is mix of tahini, garlic coconut aminos, mustard, lime, fresh grated ginger, coconut nectar, and sriracha), make a pot of rice, and add a protein (tofu, chicken, fish). Voilà, you have a yummy and nutritious dinner that took less than 30 minutes to make!
3. Make meals that stretch
I love making meal that maximize our groceries and leave plenty of leftovers for the next few days. My favorite dish to make is any type of bowl meal – rice, a mix of veggies, some kind of protein, and a killer sauce. This recipe is super versatile, delicious, budget-friendly and will yield leftovers (tomorrow’s lunches is covered!). Plus, they’re easy to prep ahead of time. Here are a few examples that we rotate during the week:
Cook a mix of veggies (we like onions, bell peppers, cauliflower, and black beans) in a deep pan with fresh garlic, a bit of veggie stock, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and lime juice. Add cilantro and lime (juice and zest) to a pot of cooked rice, make a batch of guac, and serve with a couple of warm corn tortillas on the side. My husband and I love this version and eat it about once a week.
No-fry stir-fry style (similar to the recipe in the previous tip):
Cook a mix of veggies (onions, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, green beans, mushrooms) in a pan with fresh garlic, coconut aminos, tahini, grated ginger, Chinese 5 spice, mustard, lemon juice, and sriracha (you can also use a store bought teriyaki sauce). Add tofu/chicken/steak to the vegetable mixture and combine to coat the protein in the sauce. Serve on a bed of brown rice, top with sesame seeds, and more sriracha.
4. Eat at the best restaurant in town - your kitchen
If you want to significantly reduce your spending and improve your overall health in a short amount of time, start cooking more at home. Eating out at restaurants (plus drinking) or having food delivered are incredibly draining financial habits and the food tends to be way less healthy than what you would cook at home. Stay with me cause we’re about to so some simple math! Let’s say you spend $35 at your favorite takeout place 3 times a week. That adds up to $105 a week and $420 a month!
My husband and I had a recent financial wake-up call when we realize just how much money we were spending on restaurants. It was disgusting. We immediately reduced our restaurant outings from twice a week (sometimes more) to once-twice a month. After just one month, we saw the effects of this change and vow to never go back.
Brining your lunch to work is a BIG money saver and using leftovers makes it a super easy task to stick with. The best part of the recipes that I mentioned in tip # 3 is that you can make a large batch so you will have leftovers for the next few days.
My love for leftovers runs deep. They save time (one cooking session produces food for several days), dishes, having to plan another meal, and money. If you think about it, by brining lunch instead of spending $15 a day 5 days a week, you could be saving $300 a month! That’s a potential savings of $3,600 a year. What would you do with that extra cash?
6. Shop for your vitamins online
I cannot tell you how many times I have bought a new supplement just to find it online for way less. It pays to shop around since you can often find special promotions or coupons online. IMPORTANT NOTE: make sure you buy your supplements and vitamins from a reputable online store. If it looks sketchy or the prices seem too good to be true, run away.
These are the online retailers that I use and trust:
- Vitacost (they always have coupons you can use)
Improving your daily nutrition can feel like an overwhelming and financially daunting task. There are so many different ways of doing it that it can feel easier to stick with what you are already doing. But it doesn't have to be! At the end of the day if you follow the simple advice I listed in this post and use the following quote by Michael Pollan as a guide, you will begin to see and feel a change without stress or confusion:
”Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants”
- Michael Pollan
As always, I hope this help clear up the mystery that surrounds the topic of eating healthier on a budget. It is possible and you can do it! Let me know if you have any questions below or send me a DM on Instagram.