Shopping Healthy on a Budget
For the last three weeks my family and I have been eating what is essentially a strict vegan diet, I say strict because we have also eliminated all sweeteners including sugar, honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup and the like. In addition to yeast, baking powder, tea, coffee, preservatives, etc.. This is not permanent, just for 21 days, in the process we have learned a lot about ourselves, our eating habits, our food addictions, essentially what moves us and what makes us tick. We had friends over for dinner and made a fabulous meal that everyone enjoyed and one of our friends asked "Isn't it expensive to eat this way? And truthfully the answer is no. After eliminating meat, milk, dairy, all fast foods and prepared grocery foods there is still a tremendous amount of great food left to eat and since you have to make it yourself it cost a whole lot less.
If you want to shop healthy (I'm not talking about anything as strict as the diet I just discussed) on a budget there are some things you want to buy and some things you want to leave alone:
Here is a list healthy foods that won't cost you a bundle:
Fruits and veggies in season Try to buy locally if you can, this has the added bonus of being vitamin and mineral packed and costing you less than in the supermarket.
Dried beans/legumes These are protein powerhouses you can substitute for meat and get great nutrition (if you are not paleo and can handle the carbs). They are also very inexpensive.
Rice, oatmeal, barley, grits Choose brown rice (don't forget to soak before cooking also choose your grits carefully) for an added nutritional boost of fiber. These foods add versatility to your diet along with great nutritional value.
Frozen produce The great thing about frozen foods is that you don't have to worry about a science experiment in your vegetable bin. They are always on hand, they have been semi-prepared
and they will cook quickly. Look for sales and stock up.
Sweet Potatoes Potatoes are great nutritionally they also add versatility to your diet, plus they're cheap!
Meat, chicken & fish Buy high quality and cheaper cuts (don't go boneless, skinless, etc), catch sales. Plan your menus around the sales that the grocery stores are offering and then try a new recipe to keep it interesting. Try slower cooking methods for tougher cuts.
Dairy products Milk, cheese and yogurt are healthful products that happen to be on the more expensive side. You can make your own yogurt, even your own cheese to help cut cost. Purchase high quality milk and watch your portion size. Remember a serving size of cheese is 1 ounce, if you buy a 1 pound block of cheese and divide it up into 16 portions as soon as you get home, you will know exactly how much you are consuming at any one meal.
Fats & Oils We cook with coconut, butter and olive oil primarily. You can catch all three on sale. Coconut oil and olive oil store well and you can freeze butter. Again quality counts.
Also if you want to save money when grocery shopping, don't go hungry. Everything looks good when you are hungry and you are more likely to blow your budget and potentially purchase something that isn't even good for you.