There’s a myth in this country that eating healthy is expensive as is getting in shape. However, just as there are low cost alternatives to joining a gym to get in shape, there are also low cost ways to eat healthy on a budget.
But first, let’s dispel the myth that eating healthy is expensive. If you buy your family a crockpot meal from the freezer section that you simply dump in the crockpot, you’ll likely pay $6 to $8. However, those meals are small, and if you have a family of 4, you’ll likely need two. You’re now looking at $12 to $16 to feed your family, and that’s assuming that you don’t eat anything else.
Compare that to a meal from scratch using fresh, organic ingredients. You could buy a bunch of organic Swiss Chard for approximately $2 to $3. This is the vegetable that keeps giving; there’s enough in a bunch to serve as an ample side for a family of 4. Then, buy a 5 lb. bag of organic potatoes. These will likely run you about $5, but you can use just 2 pounds to make homemade french fries for $2. Add in some organic chicken breasts for $8, and you are now paying $12 for your home cooked meal.
The difference is that you are eating healthy, nutritious organic food with no chemical additives for the same price as a factory made meal filled with chemicals and ingredients that aren’t very good for you.
If you buy conventional Swiss Chard, potatoes and chicken instead of organic, you will be able to serve the same meal for much less, likely $8 or less.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be more expensive.
Here are some other ways you can gradually change your diet to more natural, less processed food, without seeing your grocery budget go up significantly:
1. Buy vegetables that are cheap. Things like kale, Swiss Chard, spinach, cabbage, carrots, celery and potatoes can be purchased at very reasonable prices, and the quantity is abundant. You can make at least two meals out of a head of cabbage. Many of these products are also high on the ANDI scale (which stands for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index and measures how many nutrients a food has). The higher the ANDI score, the better.
2. Buy from a CSA. CSAs (which stands for Community Supported Agriculture) are popping up all over the country. You buy straight from the farmer (often an organic farmer). You pay upfront, say between March and June, for 26 weeks of produce. In return, the farmer delivers produce from his local farm to you every week during the growing season, usually between June and late October. Often you will get more than you can consume in a week, so you can freeze some for the fall and winter months. Generally, the price is much cheaper than the grocery store. You can find a CSA by looking at localharvest.org.
3. Take advantage of Recyclebank. Recyclebank gives you points for doing tasks related to living a “green” life. My favorite way to use those points is on coupons for organic products and produce.
Eating healthy, nutritious, minimally processed foods doesn’t have to be more expensive than eating factory made food filled with additives. If your New Year’s resolution is to become healthier, taking a close look at the food you buy is a step in the right direction.