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:
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)
smoothie-nondairy with bananas, fruit
green Smoothie-nondairy with greens and bananas
Lunch (for school mid-morning meal)
pita with chummus
peanut butter sandwich
“Pudding” made with bananas and avocados
rice crispie/ peanut butter / raisin / chocolate chip balls
Shabbos leftovers (meat, chicken, fish, soup, cooked vegetable, grains)
Grain/ vegetable/ egg scramble
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?