8 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

Local-food-dinner

I've been getting some questions about how to eat healthy on a budget and thought I'd share this one with you, along with my response in the hopes that someone out there might also benefit from this interaction. Here's the question from Cara:

I know you know everything about eating healthy so I wanted to ask your advice on eating great food on a tight budget. I'm on a starting teacher salary right now and can't afford to spend much, but I really do care about eating organic stuff and things that are natural and not packed with chemicals. any advice? I can be frugal with resources but I also want I make sure I'm buying smart not just cheap!

Well, I'm not sure if I know *everything*, but at least I know enough to be dangerous, and sounds like we're on the same page with getting chemicals out of what we're putting in our bodies. Check check.

Here are a few tips and resources I've found in my search for not breaking the bank:

1.  Eat fruits and veggies that are in season. (Here's a link to a "what's in season" chart for your specific region.)

2.  Be mindful of what's in season and try to focus on using those ingredients for your main portion of your meals. When you want a vegetable that's not in season, head to the frozen section. And although they're not as primely ripe and nutritious as if you'd picked it off its plant, it's a good compromise. I always hate realizing that I picked up some fruit or veggie that's out of season and I end up paying $10 for a bag of grapes. Ughhh, rough.

3.  Visit your local farmer's markets if they're still open.

4.  Right now, we're about to end summer squash season and head into winter squash season: spaghetti squash, butternut squash, acorn squash--for $3-5 you can make a recipe with a squash base that can last you at least 4 meals. Last night I made my own recipe of "baked spaghetti lasagna" using spaghetti squash and threw in a bunch of chopped veggies, marinara sauce and pesto and some cheese. It was amazing. And made a ton of leftovers...double bonus!

5.  Meat is expensive. Since April, I've become a vegetarian, with the exception that I'll eat grass-fed non injected meat on occasion. Cutting down meat consumption can make things less expensive overall.

6.  Cook at home. I'd say it's 95% of the time cheaper to cook at home, and any leftovers, then, are all yours for the saving. (Side note: 98% of my statistics are made up.)

7.  When I have the chance, I cook a large quantity of food all at once (usually on weekends, because I have no life), and then eat those meals throughout the week. I have no qualms about eating the same thing for 3-5 days straight at lunch, which I understand is not normal for most people. Good thing I'm not normal.

8.  Just so you have a ballpark... when I was living in expensive California and cooking at home, I'd spend an average of $300-$350 a month on groceries. It may not be that expensive where you are, which would be nice. But that was a cost I was comfortable with, given I knew that I was investing in myself and not in ugly chemical foods.

For some good healthy recipes, I've started collecting them on my Pinterest board, cleverly titled, "Feed Me".

Also, for good recipes, I've loved referring to this site by the wildly candid, witty, and sometimes inappropriate Juli: http://paleomg.com/

If this was helpful, feel free to share this with your friends. Have a great weekend, everybody!