The Olim Files Files #19: Eating Healthy on a Budget

I was in the produce section at the grocery shaking my head in dismay at the prices  I lamented it was cheaper to buy potato chips than fruits and vegetables.  My friend, a fellow shopper, replied with a question “Would you rather spend the extra money on healthy food or on medical expenses?  Looking at it with that perspective I had to agree with her.  So is it possible to eat healthy on a budget? Yes, it is.  Here’s how.

  • Eat with the seasons. Know what’s in season for where you live.  It will be less expensive than something that is ‘out of season’ or is imported from elsewhere.  Use the internet or cookbooks to find new and exciting recipes to prepare these foods. For example, when cucumbers were aplenty, I discovered a soup using cucumbers and avocados as its main ingredients and it’s now one of my favorite recipes. (Don’t judge my soup until you’ve tried it!)
  • Back to basics. Our ancestors ate just fine on staples like rice, potatoes, bean and whole grains.  There is so much you can do with these ingredients.  How many meals can you serve from a bag of rice and a bag of lentils?  I haven’t counted the servings but I can guarantee cost will be less and the quantity will be more than the contents a box of Cheerios (which often feeds the floor more than the mouth and whose top ingredients include sugar).
  • Avoid processed foods.  Though convenient, they eat up (no pun intended) a lot of one’s budget because they are expensive.
  • Aim for plant-based meals.  A dietitian or environmentalist I am not, but from a budget standpoint, the less animal products you have in your shopping cart, the lower your bill at the checkout counter.
  • Shop with a list, don’t shop when you are hungry, and ideally pay with cash.

It has been suggested that meal planning saves money.  While I don’t disagree, I don’t find meal planning convenient. For me, intuitive eating is more important that sticking to a plan.  For example, if I planned for chicken and potatoes, but I’d rather have a green salad with pomegranate seeds, I honor what my body wants.  Maybe I’m craving some nutrient or just feel I need a lighter meal. The best way to plan for intuitive eating is to have staples in your pantry, fridge, and freezer.

What does my family’s meal choices look like in Real Life? Here’s a peek:

Breakfast

pureed rice with cinnamon and honey (or chopped nuts or dried fruit)

dry oatmeal and peanut butter (with a sprinkle of chocolate chips if I’m feeling generous)

oatmeal

French toast

pancakes

smoothie-nondairy with bananas, fruit

green Smoothie-nondairy with greens and bananas

Lunch (for school mid-morning meal)

cheese sandwich

pita with chummus

peanut butter sandwich

Snacks

Popcorn, stove-popped

Cookies-homemade

“Pudding” made with bananas and avocados

muffins

rice crispie/ peanut butter / raisin / chocolate chip balls

apple slices

carrot sticks

vegetable platter

Dinner

Soup

Shabbos leftovers (meat, chicken, fish, soup, cooked vegetable, grains)

Grain/ vegetable/ egg scramble

Pasta

eggs

tuna

Regardless of the category I listed it under, I am more than happy to serve any item at any meal whether it is ‘traditional’ for that meal or not.

Another way to eat healthy on a budget is to say ‘no’.  I may want a watermelon but if it is so pricey compared to other food choices, I have to give up any sense of entitlement and forgo this purchase until the price is more budget-friendly.

Thanks for reading, happy shopping, and b’teavon (bon appetite).

-Karen, The Klutter Koach.  Home organizing solutions in R/BS

October 28, 2018

Have you missed any of The Olim Files?

#18 Welcome to Israel!

#17 Ditch the Warehouse Club Mentality

#16 Over-the-Counter-Medication

#15 What to Buy as Soon as You Get Off the Plane

#14 Essential Hebrew Part II

#13 Essential Hebrew Part I

#12 Color and Home Decorating

#11 S’more, Meet Krembo

#10 Pumpkin-Spiced Latte

#9 The First Week of School

#8    The Illustrated Guide to School Supplies

#7  To Bring, or Not to Bring- That is the Question

#6 Making Pesach in Israel

#5  Doors, Light Switches,Toilets and Other Oddities of Your New Home

#4 Small Appliances

#3 Israeli Closets

#2 Cleaning Products

#1 Housekeeping 101 in Israel

 

 

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