I would have to say the most common excuse I get from people about why they can’t lead a healthy lifestyle is because “healthy food costs too much.”
Granted, there are some healthy options that are more expensive, especially organic foods, but my objective with this week’s blog is to challenge that line of thinking with evidence to the contrary.
One of the reasons I was inspired to write this blog is because I’ve made a lot of changes in my life in the past few years. I moved to a new city and I’m making less money. So, in this season of my life it’s very important for me to be intentional about my spending.
I have grown accustomed to shopping at Whole Foodsand other natural food stores – which are a bit more expensive. However, I have always considered them worth it because my health is important to me. With living a vegan lifestyle I am very particular about what I eat.
So, as I was doing my grocery shopping I realized this is a perfect opportunity to share with you some strategies to eat healthy, plant-based, whole foods on a budget.
Here are 7 cost effective ways to eat healthy on a vegan/plant based diet:
1. Buy frozen veggies – they are just as good as fresh veggies in the produce, but a lot less expensive.
2. Buy the store brand whenever possible. Frozen veggies from Publix taste the same as those from Green Giant. Just check out the ingredients —they read the same.
3. Shop at discount stores because many of them offer healthy, name brand options. I cannot tell you how surprised I was to find that Walmart carries Quinoa. Not only that, but they carry the SAME brand I buy in Whole Foods, but it’s much cheaper. Aldi is another great alternative. They have a lot of organic options for a fraction of the cost.
4. Shop the farmers market. This is one of my favorite things to do for so many reasons. Obviously, its helping the farmers. It’s also fresh, and much cheaper. You’re avoiding the extra overhead costs the supermarket factors into the price.
5. Buy seasonal. Since I seem to love every vegetable ever made, especially if it’s green (except green peas –yuck!) – I can eat pretty much anything. If you buy food that’s in season it’s a lot cheaper. You ever notice how much more it costs to buy something like watermelon outside the summer months? If you get them in season you can pay about $4-5, but if you get it offseason, you can pay anywhere from $7-8!
6. Choose fresh over canned. Buy fresh beans and peas instead of those in the can. Overall, you’re getting a much better value and they’re healthier. I am not a fan of canned food, but the only thing I will occasionally buy in the can are beans. I was buying black beans, garbanzo beans, and red beans in the can. Well, if you buy the bags of beans and peas, it’s a much better deal. The other benefit is they digest better when you cook them, especially black beans. So, instead of buying an eight ounce can for 99 cents, I bought a 20 oz bag for $2.24, which produces a lot more beans than the two servings in the can. You can cook them in a crock pot once a week and have enough to eat for 3-4 days.
7. Buy whole foods – they keep you full longer and you require less of it. Whereas the processed food is loaded with sugar, and it actually has things in them that interferes with the chemical in your brain that tells your body it’s full. It actually switches it off so you constantly feel hungry and are eating all day. So instead of buying instant oatmeal, buy the whole, rolled oats and just add fresh fruit and/or raisins and cinnamon to it.
When you buy genetically modified, processed food, it appears cheaper on the surface, but it’s costing you much more in the long run. You have to consume much more of it to fill full, and you pay for it in healthcare costs because of all the illnesses and diseases it triggers (i.e. diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, etc.)
Now that you’ve heard some of the things I’m doing to eat healthy on a budget, I’d love to hear from you. What can you do to eat healthier on a budget?