I often hear that eating healthy is expensive. It could be, but it doesn’t have to be. Just like buying clothes could be expensive, or grooming, school supplies, home improvement, traveling, you name it. Once you move “Healthy Eating” in your “priorities bin”, you can research, investigate and plan to fit healthy eating into your budget. Trust me, you will feel good about it – both physically and emotionally.
Basics of Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is simple, just follow the steps below (and use Healthy Eating Plate by Harvard University School of Public Health):
- Make 2/3 to a half of your plate non-starchy veggies (salad greens – lettuce, kale, spinach, spring mix, arugula, dandelion, green and purple cabbage; fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, avocado, carrots, radish; roasted or steamed broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti squash; roasted or sautéed eggplant, bell peppers, collard greens.
- Make quarter of your plate starch – whole grains or starchy veggies: brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, wild rice, couscous, whole grain pasta, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash.
- Make quarter of your plate lean animal protein or plant protein: lean cuts of or ground meat, chicken, turkey, pork, fish and seafood, all types of beans and lentils, peas and tofu.
- Make sure to include the following foods in addition to main meals or as snacks: fruits, nuts, unsweetened yogurt (top with berries, fruits and honey), nut butters, whole grain bread/pita/tortillas, olive oil.
- Use in moderation or on occasion: condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise, other commercially produced dressings (usually contain added sugar, processed oils and preservatives); cheese, butter, fruit preserves, cold cuts and deli meats, hot dogs, cookies and other high fat/sugar desserts, alcohol.
- Buy in season – not only you’ll save money on fresh produce, you’ll reap the benefits of high quality nutrition, as seasonal fruits and veggies are at their peak of nutritional value; use this link Fresh From Florida to find your local seasonal produce.
- Find recipes that feature low cost ingredients, like in this USDA Source.
- Shop at stores that offer competitive prices – Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Presidente, Walmart. Aldi, for instance, is able to keep their prices low due to some cost cutting strategies they use. They don’t offer plastic or paper bags, customers bag their own goods, they have less personnel working the floor.
- Cook big batches and freeze individual containers – to avoid food spoilage and save time in the future.
- Use coupons – you can stock up on staples (shelf-stable foods) with 2-for-1 offers, save a lot on daily deals and discounts.
- Buy less processed foods (chips, soda, cookies, crackers, candy) to buy more fresh whole foods. Your health and waistline will thank you for it.
- Buy less fast foods and other take outs – not only the quality of these foods lags behind, the price per pound is usually much higher when compared to homemade meals, which can push you out of your budget.
- Look for smart phone apps that help you track your budget and keep it in line (EveryDollar, Mint, Acorns).