Eating Well and Sticking to your Budget
Eating well can be tricky for some of us on a budget. The price of organic food can be high and when making the choice of what is really worth spending the extra money on it can be tough to make that decision. Here are a few of my favorite tips to help you navigate the world of organic/healthy eating while sticking to your budget.
Plan ahead. Knowing exactly what you need, and how much, can be your biggest money saver. Instead of going to the grocery store and wandering the aisles to see what entices you, make a list and stick to it. Meal planning will help you stick to a budget, choose inexpensive recipes and write down how much of each ingredient you need for each recipe. Planning to make enough dinner to have for lunch the next day will help cut your restaurant expenses as well. Check out this blog post for 6 easy steps to successful meal planning.
Prepare foods in bulk. This is especially helpful when it comes to animal protein. Instead of buying organic chicken breasts or grass-fed steaks choose a larger, inexpensive, cut of meat such as a whole chicken or a Chuck Roast and plan on re-using it in different ways throughout the week. Always remember to keep the bones of any meat you cook to make your own homemade bone broth to have on hand.
Buy in Bulk. Keep an eye out for sales and buy as much as you can when there’s a good deal. If you can afford the initial investment of buying your non-perishables in bulk it will save you a lot of money in the long run. Some great staples to keep on hand include coconut flour, almond flour, shredded coconut, olive oil, coconut oil, mixed nuts, himalayan sea salt, supplements and even beef. Costco usually has some great finds, I usually buy our organic chicken, organic ground turkey, coconut flour, organic brown rice and so many other goodies there. Different stores carry different things so if you have a few nearby it may be worth checking out more than one.
Buy in Season. Food grown in season not only tastes better but it is also cheaper since you can buy local and avoid paying the cost of transportation. Eat more root vegetables and kale in the winter, tomatoes and berries in the summer and apples and squash in the fall. The easiest way to eat seasonally is to shop at your local farmers market or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Local Harvest is a great resource to help you find nearby farms and CSA’s.
Preserve, Freeze and Dehydrate. This will also help you make the most of buying seasonally when the prices are right or help you take advantage of a good sale. Being able to preserve foods for use when they aren’t in season will help stretch your budget. Having frozen veggies on hand is also great to help you throw together a last minute meal by tossing them together into a stir fry with some leftover meat or making a soup, while frozen fruits are great for quick, on the go smoothies.
Introduce Meatless Monday. Legumes such as beans, lentils and peas, when combined with properly prepared grains, are just as good at providing amino acids as animal protein. Since quality meat is easily the most expensive food most people buy having even one meatless day per week can save you a lot of money. Choose dried beans instead of canned and be sure to soak them overnight and add a piece of the seaweed kombu during cooking to make them more digestible.
Get Familiar with The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen. “The dirty dozen” are the twelve fruits and vegetables that have been found to contain the highest amounts of pesticides according to The Environmental Working Group. If you are trying to reduce your pesticide load these are the ones you should always buy organic. “The Clean Fifteen” on the other hand are the least contaminated and the safest to buy conventionally if you are on a budget. This blog post will help you navigate through the dirty dozen, clean 15 as well as the foods most likely to be tainted with GMO’s.
While it might seem intimidating at first following these tips will help you make a smooth transition to a healthier way of eating while sticking to your budget. After a little practice you’ll get a better feel for where you want to skimp and where you can afford to splurge.
What other tips can you share to keep costs down? If you’re part of a local co-op in your area please comment and let us know where you are and the name of your co-op!