I often hear people say that eating healthy is expensive, and that’s often one of the reasons people give for not making better food choices.
I agree that healthy nutritious and organic foods should not be more expensive than processed foods filled with sugar, bad fats, preservatives and cheap artificial agents. If you ask me, it should be the other way around. But, the cost should not be a reason for not choosing food that serves, nourishes and heals your body, and making that a priority.
In fact, eating healthy doesn’t have to be any more expensive than buying processed nutrient-depleted foods – when you make ‘real’ food in your own kitchen from simple ingredients. The side effects you’ll get are that you will feel better, have less cravings, be healthier, less stressed, and save money on doctor visits and medicine.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates ‘The Father of Western Medicine’
Yes, fresh fruit and vegetable are some of the most expensive food in supermarkets – something I don’t agree with at all, as I believe it can be provided to us much cheaper with certain government policies and subsidies. But with a bit of planning and a few tricks you can really bring that cost down.
The food you eat becomes your cells that form your whole body, and it’s not just something to fill your stomach and give you energy in form of calories.
Your cells get replaced at a rate of 50-70 billion cells a day for the average adult. That means every day this many cells die, and this many cells are born.
Your body gets the building blocks needed for these cells, which form all your organs, skeleton, your immunity, hormones and enzymes – mostly from the food you eat and water you drink.
So spending money on food that’s better for you, and putting time into preparing and cooking it yourself, is really a wise investment into your health and wellbeing. Short, medium and long-term.
So here are my 5 tips on how you can cut down that grocery bill and eat for your health:
1. Cook your own food!
There are a million reasons why you should prepare your own food…well, almost. 🙂 Food preparation (and eating) has been part of being human for thousands of years, taking a cultural and social meaning beyond just its consumption. Yet in the Western world due to the abundance of fast processed food, at low prices, and the fast pace of life, people have become disconnected from it. Food is seen as just fuel to get you through your day, and we spend as little time as we can to prepare it, and eat it.
Real food made with whole ingredients that you prepare yourself, is actually cheaper than buying ready-made food, and A LOT healthier. Truth is, you would never add as much salt, sugar and fat as corporations and restaurants that prepare food do. Not to even mention all the preservatives and artificial ingredients that are used to make it last longer, be tastier, and cut costs.
Doing some simple “guestimated” math: a take out meal will cost you somewhere in the range of $10 per meal (here in North America at least). Frozen meals are usually in the range of $3-8. A decent healthy meal that you cook at home will cost you anywhere between $1-6 per portion.
So make your own food as much as you can, from scratch… Take it with you at work, school, university… and you’ll save a ton of money. For the past year, more than anytime before, I’ve been on a mission to make my own everything, from main meals to snacks, salad dressings, spice mixes, to dips and sauces. Aside from all the mentioned benefits, the satisfaction to enjoy something delicious you’ve prepared goes beyond any short-lived satisfaction when you eat a take-away or frozen ready meal.
2. Eat more plant food, that’s in-season.
Eating more plant foods and less meat is not only better for your wallet, but for your health as well, and the planet. While fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive, especially organic, you can really save a lot of money by eating mostly food that is in-season, which is abundant and therefore cheaper. You can then freeze it and use it when it’s out of season.
Most likely this food will come from local sources, so the food is fresher, meaning more nutritious (nutrients gets lost by the time the food is transported, stored and shelved). At the same time you’ll be supporting your community and local farmers.
Legumes such as beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas are some of the cheapest healthiest foods you can get (especially dried ones). They store for a very long time, and you can make some really delicious and varied meals with them that you won’t even miss the meat. Here’s a veggie burger recipe to get you started 🙂
3. Plan your meals weekly.
Planning, planning, planning! Planning your meals in advance is huge! When you leave it to last-minute to decide what you are going to eat, in the midst of your hunger you are much more likely to resort to a take-out. It’s been many times when I’ve been so hungry from the office and without a plan for dinner, so I ended up buying ready-made food, or spending A LOT more money eating out.
We are all so busy and have many commitments, so planning what you will eat a few days in advance will save you not only money, but a lot of time as well. You can prepare many meals in advance one day of the week when you can spend a bit more time in the kitchen, and store them in the fridge or freezer.
When you plan in advance what foods you intend to cook, you will be less tempted, less stressed about making decisions every day when you’re hungry and less logical, you’ll spend less time grocery shopping, and cooking. You will also minimize waste: plan to eat the products that spoil quickly, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, first, and later have the foods that last longer.
4. Shop for groceries less often.
The more often you go grocery shopping, the more money you will spend. Duh, you say. But aside from the most obvious reason – shop less, spend less – the more times you go into the grocery store, the more times you’re exposing yourself to temptation by products you didn’t initially plan to get…and don’t necessarily need to.
Have you ever gone in to just buy one or two things and come out with a full basket? I know I have, many times 🙂 And I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any treats or unhealthy snacks in there – just because. Especially when I’m hungry!
So plan your grocery trips, and try to use up the food you have in your house to avoid going to the store just for a couple of ingredients. Try to go without, or find a replacement you already have. Most of us have a lot of forgotten awesome foods in our freezers and pantries. Bring on your creativity and have fun experimenting! 🙂
5. Buy food in bulk where you can.
You can save a lot of money by buying foods that store for a long time in bulk. Buying foods like legumes, beans, flours, oils, nuts, seeds, grains, and spices, in bulk and/or in large packages, not only costs less, but it’s also much better for the environment. I see so many products wrapped excessively in unnecessary packaging, products sold in single servings – all for a bit of convenience. All this just adds to pollution (the production process), and the already excessive waste in our oceans and landfills. Make your own individual servings at home in reusable containers!
So there you are, these are my main strategies for saving on my grocery bill. I really hope this helps!
No matter what though, it’s important that you remember that buying healthy food is an investment into your health, well being and longevity. All while supporting and voting with your dollar for local, organic and real food. So it’s all worth it. 😉
Did you enjoy this article? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!
Lots of love,