By Coach Mel
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “but I can’t afford to eat healthy”…well then I’d have enough dollars to not write this blog and just buy everyone’s groceries…forever.
Yes, it can be more expensive to buy healthier food, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Do you hear me? Put down the hot dog that you thought was such a good deal and read this blog.
Here are some tips:
Tip one: calculate price differences.
I have spent my entire adult life eating healthy food on a minimum wage budget. You may have seen me in the produce aisle on my phone as you pass shaking your head at what you perceive to be another shopper blocking the way while checking Facebook. No my friends; I have my calculator app out and am most likely calculating the price difference in the various brands of spinach boxes. If there is even a .05 cent difference, I’m going cheaper. Because when you add up the many differences like that then you are saving dollars and when you are saving dollars every week, you are saving hundreds of dollars every year! Sidenote: usually grocery store tags have a unit price and you don’t actually have to break out a calculator. But I like to just for good measure.
Tip two: Bulk Section = a party.
Guys, buy in bulk. But seriously, buy in bulk and do your research on where the cheapest bulk items are. I will help you out with that right now. A staple in my diet since I discovered its health benefits and dirt cheap qualities is none other than our good friend Oatmeal. Boasting a conservative .82/pound (at Fred Meyer), this delicious treat will give you breakfast for a couple weeks at under a couple dollars TOTAL. Fancier stores will try – and might succeed – at getting you to pay over $1/pound but Fred Meyer is cheapest for this as well as for brown rice. If it isn’t on sale at New Seasons or Trader Joe’s…quinoa works great too.
More in Bulk:
Make your own nut mix. Nuts are an amazing source of good fat and also can come at an amazingly high price if you try and buy a nut medley or “trail mix”. Make your own! All your favorite nuts are cheapest in bulk on their own so pick your favorites and mix them together later. It’s fun!
More on nuts:
Peanut butter/ Almond butter…another great source of fat. Almond butter is tops in terms of health benefits over peanut butter but if you are really strapped for cash, I suggest the organic grind-it-yourself peanut butters. If you prefer pre-ground jars, Trader Joe’s has the cheapest almond butter I have found as well as peanut butter. You have to do some stirring but it is delicious and you can always think of it as a free workout.
Tip 3. To be Organic or Not?
Some things are best bought organic and worth the extra money. For some things, you really don’t have to fork over (get it?) the extra cash. Here is a good read on what to buy or not to buy organic.
Tip 4. Know your stores.*
I do my shopping at three primary places. All are within a mile radius of each other. I do this because I know what I am going to buy and where it is the most reasonably priced and best in quality. Sometimes/all the time money-saving outweighs convenience.
Trader Joe’s: Oils, Greek yogurt, coffee, almond butter, brown rice pasta, and spices (if not a random spice I will only ever need a pinch of…in which case I buy in bulk at FM).
Fred Meyer: Bulk items and nut milks, most produce.
New Seaons: Meats. New Seasons has the cheapest meat counter with the most free-range and organic options I have found. Eggs…cheapest of the cage-free variety I have found.
*while I haven’t always in the past, I now know the value and importance of spending more on free range/cage free organic meats and eggs. If I can’t afford it I do not buy cheaper varieties…I just don’t buy.
*it is important to note that Trader Joe’s and New Seasons always have free food and coffee samples out…just saying.
Tip 5: cook your meals
This is an obvious one. Prepare your own meals and don’t eat out a lot. Here is an example of why it pains me so to hear people say they can’t afford to eat healthy.
A limited and brief day in my life:
2 eggs about- .60
spinach (free from garden) or about .50
1/2 avocado .50
= $1.50! A wonderful health filled breakfast…$1.50…take that dollar menu.
blueberries (frozen serving)- .75
almonds and cinnamon- .75
and a little coconut milk (negligible)
= about $1.50-$2 as well.
Salad with rice- .75
chicken(i buy free-range organic rotisseries at $9.99 at New Seaons) serving- $1.50 or 2 eggs if I didn’t have them for breakfast
1/2 avocado- .50 = $2.75
Fred Meyer: Frozen Wild Caught Salmon fillets; a bag of 10 for $15.00
Salads with nuts and mixed veggies and rice/quinoa
Brown rice pasta at Trader Joe’s with red sauce over greens: the whole bag and jar of sauce is $3.49… that serves like 4 people. Add onions and garlic and veggies and oh my goodness….
These are just some examples of what it means to be healthy on a budget.
To conclude and I might be a little harsh here but this subject is one I am passionate about and have been preaching ever since I knew what quinoa was. You can absolutely eat healthy on a major budget. Is it more time consuming to shop at different places? Yes. Will you have to cook more? Yes. Will you try and make excuses for why it is easier to eat out or spend more on less? At some point. Will you establish a better relationship with your food and set an example for those you cook for and ultimately feel better because you are not consuming things that stores and corporations have led you to believe are all you can afford? Absolutely. Everyone deserves to be healthy. We wholeheartedly stand by this statement at POINT. We believe activity and proper nutrition are deserved by everyone which is why we make ourselves accesible and set everyone up for success in these areas. Now go forth and eat spinach.