Healthy Eating on a Budget
Many people are on a budget and eating healthy seems to be the first thing that gets cut. Being on a budget does not mean sacrificing health and wellness. It may seem like eating fresh produce coasts more, especially when shopping organic, however this is not totally true. If you shop for in season produce and shop sales organic and fresh won't break the bank.
I get that eating pre-packaged foods and meals is easier than having a bunch of fruits and vegetables to cut and prepare. Processed foods can also seem like a good deal, especially if they are on sale, so if you are a busy person it may be easier. The problem is most processed foods, healthy as they may seem, contain added sugar along with some form of vegetable oil (canola, safflower, etc). Plus these foods are farther removed from the natural state which is a whole other subject. I will save this for another post but will touch briefly on some additives in pre-packaged food items.
Of course there are some healthier processed foods like freshly ground nut butter, butter and frozen foods. So when I talk about processed foods I am referring to the foods that have additives like oils, colorings and preservatives. The most common added ingredient is fructose, also known as sugar. Even if you are diligent about reading labels, there are usually hidden ingredients, like sugar. It's amazing how many foods actually have added sugar and for what reason? To make the food "taste" better. If foods are in their natural state, sugar is usually not needed.
Processed foods are designed to rewire the brain to crave the processed foods. The brain can become addicted to sugar just like drugs or alcohol. With every small amount of sugar consumed, the brain develops a tolerance. Each time sugar is consumed, the brain wants more and needs an increased amount to get the same stimulation. Sugar and additives trick the brain into thinking it wants more than the body needs and weight gain is usually the outcome. It becomes a vicious cycle.
Learning more about sugar and processed foods has made my desire to eat real, whole foods more appealing. Preparing food from whole ingredients means knowing exactly what is in each meal. Buying foods as close to their natural state is the most ideal way to insure the body is free from harmful additives. A good rule of thumb is to have the grocery cart filled with 90% real, whole foods and only 10% processed foods.
Even though it seems like shopping for mostly produce and non-processed meats is more expensive it doesn't have to be. Shopping in bulk if you have the opportunity and space, is a great money saver. I don't have a bulk store close to where I live so using online sources to get some of the items I use frequently or that can be more expensive when purchased in smaller amounts, is a great way to save money. Use the following ideas to help guide your next grocery store trip and you may notice you end up saving money.
Budget shopping ideas
- Shop for in season produce. This means looking for produce that is harvested at specific times during the year. For example, buying blueberries in the winter season will be more expensive because blueberries are in season from late May to August. If you are not sure, do a quick web search before making a trip to the store or ask one of the workers in the produce section.
- If using frozen fruits or vegetables, try to shop with coupons or in store sales.
- Try to pick organic produce but if it's too expensive, get regular produce and wash them really well
- Look for sales on organic and grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish, if these meats are out of your budget than get what you can afford but try to keep meats to a minimum.
- Try to plan meals out in advance to avoid wandering around the store and just grabbing food. This is where shopping bills can be higher and wasteful.
- Know your prices and use coupons. Or at least download store apps that have online coupons. You will be surprised how much money you can save with coupons.
- Try not to splurge on items you can make or forgo.
- Lastly, shopping in bulk when you can really helps. If you have a big freezer or fridge space, you can shop online at places like Thrive Market, Amazon, Costco, etc. and make things ahead of time to freeze or munch on all week.
These tips are just a few to get you started but planning is a huge time and money saver. At first meal planning can take a little time. If it seems overwhelming, start with two or three meals a week. Once you have that down pat, try for more. You can always eat left overs for lunches therefore planning dinners is a great place to start. Good luck and happy fresh, whole food shopping!
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Disclaimer: The information on this website (Alt Yoga Vibe) is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical treatment. If you are experiencing any severe pain or symptoms, please consult a healthcare practitioner.