Cheapest Way To Eat Healthy
Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy doesn't have to mean expensive. Sure, expensive ingredients exist, but they're not mandatory. Here's what we mean.
Opt for Ugly Produce
Here’s the deal: most produce gets thrown out before it even hits the shelves of your local grocery stores. That’s because much like with everything in nature, fruit and vegetables come in all shapes and sizes. However, the food industry dictated that the only “look” that people will care to buy is the one look that we actively see in stores. We think a carrot looks a certain way. And that a red pepper only looks one certain way. Surely, customers won’t purchase any other carrot that just happens to look malformed?
Well, that’s a myth. Studies and surveys continuously show that customers don’t care about how ugly a fruit or veg are, as long as they taste good. You’re chopping them up and eating them anyway!
Still, the industry dictates that’s a negatory, so we’re left paying a premium for the “pretty” produce. But if you’re anywhere near a farm, a farmer’s market, or even select health food stores, you can find “ugly” produce quite easily. And pay a fraction of the price of regular produce.
Search High And Low For the Deals
There’s always a deal to be found, whether it’s at a bargain shop, or even a high-end health food store. Contrary to popular belief, sales don’t discriminate. You can find some pretty amazing deals in stores that would otherwise be deemed too pricey for the average consumer.
So, the trick is to search high and low for the deals you find amazing. Anything that’s 50% off or more is ideal. Think 3 avocados for a dollar, or meat that’s no more than $3 for the whole package. Or blocks of cheese, essentially cheese in bulk, for a fraction of the price of a full bag of shredded cheese.
These deals are out there, but you have to pay close attention to the mail. Oftentimes you’ll find flyers with the weekly deals right there, ready for your judgment. Stores now have apps too, so use those to compare prices on items you use everyday.
Purchase Versatile Food
There’s nothing more beautiful than using up all of your food. Considering the fact that food waste is a serious problem all over the first world, this is something to be celebrated. And it can save you money.
For example, say you purchase a bell pepper, a tomato, and some bananas. By the end of the week, your bell pepper needs to be used up, and your tomato isn’t looking that fresh. You used some of each earlier in the week for a meal, but now you don’t know if you’ll get through the rest of it.
Not so fast! Roast whatever is left of that tomato and pepper in the oven, peel the skin off, and blend it to make a salsa. Add in spices of your choice, some fresh herbs, and maybe even some chopped onion, if you have any.
And those bananas? Slice one and put it on toast, with some peanut butter. Or mash them up in place of an egg in your baking. Speaking of which, make some banana bread with the leftover bananas, rather than letting them rot and throwing them away.
The more versatile your food it, the more you can use it in a variety of ways. And that means better meals, less chances of being stuck in a cooking rut, and less food waste. Keep that money in your pocket.
Canned Food Is Your Friend
Whoever said canned food is for dogs was hiding a well-kept secret. Turns out, as long as you watch out for sodium content, syrups, juices, and oils, canned food is a great alternative to its fresher counterparts.
For instance, tuna is normally an expensive fish. But canned tuna is not, and if you get it in water instead of oil, it can also be just as healthy.
The same goes for fruit. Sometimes you’re really craving an orange, but either the selection is bad, or it’s overpriced. Luckily, you can get canned options, in light syrup, or water, and save on both money and calories.
Next time you’re in the store, pick up a few canned alternatives to premium food. It will save you money, and won’t hinder your recipes in the slightest.
Avoid Premium, Specialty Foods
Nutritional yeast, chia seeds, avocados, organic almond butter, matcha powder, protein powder, etc. These are all premium, specialty foods that you technically don’t need in your diet to eat healthy. A healthy diet is one that’s balanced with mostly whole foods. Think veggies, fruits, and grains. Healthy fats like full-fat yogurt, and peanut butter.
Premium foods are the reason why most people assume that eating healthy is expensive. It’s really not, as long as you’re well-aware that you don’t need those high-end ingredients.
That being said, don’t skimp on them if they’re priced for a bargain. It can be a nice splurge if they’re on sale, a welcome, unexpected addition to the menu. Every so often, stores will have sales on these items if they haven’t moved off the shelf for a while.
Finally, food prep is a money saver, life saver, everything saver. Assuming you food prep once or twice a week, you can spend the rest of the week not worrying about cooking at all. That’s less time spent slaving over a stove or oven. That’s less time worrying about things like what to make for dinner. And more time spent doing the things you love, like relaxing after a long day at work.
The initial investment is just a few ziplock bags and some glass containers. Glass will last you longer, and won’t stain or contaminate your food, so the higher price tag is worth it. With plastic containers, you’ll have to replace them every few months.
Some quick prep tips are to cook several servings of one ingredient at a time, and use them in multiple ways. Maybe you made a lot of rice, so you can make sushi for lunch one day, and vegetable fried rice for another day.