I recently heard someone say that they can’t afford to eat healthy, a statement I have heard from others as well. When I asked this person to explain why she felt that way she gave me as an example the fact that a burger in a certain fast food restaurant cost a dollar while a dinner salad in the same restaurant was $5. I almost fell over when I realized that she was using fast food as a benchmark for dietary choices and cost!
The truth is that, other than those fast food “specials” offered to lure customers into the store, healthy food can be just as affordable, if not more so, than processed and prepackaged foods when you know how to plan, shop and prepare properly. Here are my top tips:
1. Shop for fruits and vegetables that are in season and grown locally. Not only will you save money, but the quality and taste will be at its peak.
2. Stock up on frozen vegetables and fruits off season when the food stores have sales. Watch the supermarket flyers and clip coupons.
3. Find grocery stores that mark down their produce when they become slightly bruised or ripe. I do this regularly and am amazed at the low cost and overall quality of the goods. I buy apples this way for making applesauce, onions and peppers for sautéing, and carrots and celery for soups and stews.
4. Shop stores that sell non-perishable dry goods such as cereals and grains in larger, eco-friendly packages. The cost is often less because of the scaled back packaging and bigger volume.
5. But don’t assume that the large size of everything is always the best buy. Check the “unit price” (cost per weight or volume) to select the best buy with any food. Sometimes the small size package is a better value.
6. Look for sources of protein other than meat or fish such as beans and lentils. They are healthy, economical, versatile, and have a long shelf life so you can stock up when they’re on sale. And if you rinse them before using, you can cut way back on the sodium.
7. Cook in bulk. Big pot meals such as soup, stew, and chili are the perfect vehicles to cook cheaper cuts of meat or beans. These can be prepared in advance and eaten over several days or frozen, lessening the need to eat out or grab fast food.
You can find more healthy eating tips and advice here.