You may think that eating healthy always has to be expensive, but don’t let this notion keep you from your goals to eat healthy.
In my previous blog post-Healthy Eating on a Budget Part 1, I outlined some tips to help you think about how you can save on the healthy foods your body craves and deserves. In case you missed it, check those out and read on for even more ideas!
Focus on the basics. Many of the standard foods on my Sugar Detox “Embrace” lists are super affordable if you think about it. Why not balance your grocery bill with canned fish (tuna, salmon, sardines) when fresh seems too expensive? Purchase chicken with the bone-in, chicken thighs or a whole chicken with the skin and have meals for days instead of just buying the skinless boneless chicken breasts which aren’t nearly as tasty. The same goes for cuts of meat – less expensive cuts make great roasts and meals that feed a family or multiple meals. Root veggies like turnips, butternut squash, parsnips, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, plantains, eggs, tomato paste, and canned pumpkin are all examples of staple sugar detox foods that won’t break the bank. Even staples like coconut flour go a long way in sugar detox recipes.
Don’t always buy name-brand. Most large food stores now produce their own brands at a more affordable price than the name-brand options (even the expensive Whole Foods 365 products). For example, the store-brand coconut milk at my local grocery store is $1.99 vs. $3.89 for a name-brand version. It may not seem like much, but every little bit adds up. Of course, you may want to support some of the other organic companies, but when you are on a tight budget, often staples can contain similar ingredients and nutrient profiles as the name-brand items.
Stay away from packaged. My Sugar Detox Program inherently teaches you to eat mostly real, whole foods instead of the packaged foods you may have relied on previously. Even if breakfast bars, frozen meals, canned soups, and cereal are no longer on your grocery list, there are other forms of healthy food that are sugar-detox approved that can still hike up the budget. I’m all in favor of healthy food becoming more mainstream and convenient, but if you’re on a tight budget, you’d be best to leave those on the shelf. For example, you could easily make your own kale or beet chips, crackers, or riced cauliflower at a fraction of the price of the trendy packaging. Sure, pre-cubed butternut squash is nice in a pinch, but you can save several dollars by buying the whole squash and spending a few minutes cutting it up yourself to roast or bake. The same thing goes with packaged salads compared to whole heads of greens that you can just cut up when you’re ready to toss into a dish. (P.S. A vegetable spiralizer is a great tool to have in the kitchen!)
Make your own. If you don’t like to cook (like me), all of the meals in the Wellness Warriors Radio Sugar Detox are still super simple, so you won’t be too challenged to make this work with your lifestyle. If you do like to cook, then you should be in your glory with all the variety! Instead of buying kombucha or sauerkraut, you can easily make your own at a fraction of the cost. You can even blend homemade almond milk by soaking raw almonds overnight and blending them in filtered water with a little cinnamon and you’ll have leftover “pulp” that you can use to make easy low-carb crackers. Coconut flour muffins, whole roasted chickens, homemade mayo, soups, and stews are all super easy and budget-friendly ideas. You can save a lot of money making your own salad dressing with a few basic ingredients compared to buying bottled dressings (which almost always have undesirable oils or added sugars hiding in them unless you know what specialty brands to look for)!
Eat at home. We all know this intuitively even if we don’t practice it, but cooking at home instead of eating out is a pretty significant way to save money, so doing a sugar detox is the perfect time for you to do more home cooking. If you have a partner or a family, you’ll even have more time to bond at the dinner table. Crockpot or Instapot meals are great time savers and they are pretty fail-proof even for the novice in the kitchen.
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Meal Plan. This strategy goes hand-in-hand with making more of your own food and eating out less. If you have a plan, you can take better advantage of sales and coupons and you can also incorporate your purchases in a few different meals throughout the week to reduce food waste (and wasted money). For example, if you purchase chicken breasts in bulk, you can throw them on the grill with veggies with a pesto sauce in the evening but make extra, so you can have leftovers for the next day. You can then enjoy sliced chicken breast atop a bed of salad greens with chopped egg, olives, avocado, chilled roasted veggies, grilled red bell peppers as a delicious lunch without having to cook! These meal prep containers come in handy if you are someone who likes to cook once a week then have meals ready for the entire week ahead to grab and go. Americans throw away approximately $165 billion worth of food each year, and for the average American family, that can be up to $2,200 per household, according to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Don’t be one of these people if you care about your wallet and the environment!
Choose wisely. Sure, the reality is that some healthy foods will cost more, so when you want to splurge, I recommend choosing wisely. The Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list is a helpful guide for what produce you may want to consider buying organic (hint: mostly produce where you consume the skin). Unless 100% organic is important to you for ethical reasons, everything you have to buy doesn’t have to be organic (especially when it comes to packaged foods), so you might want to reserve organic for meat and dairy (level 1). Finally, when it comes to unique packaged foods (i.e. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides), I usually tell my clients to pick one specialty item per month as a treat and that way you spread the costs over several months instead of having wallet shock.
I hope this motivates you to think creatively about how you can still eat healthy without breaking the bank.
Want to get even more advanced tips? Download my tips and my FREE HEALTHY EATING ON A BUDGET WORKBOOK to put these strategies into practice!
What are YOUR best strategies for eating on a budget? Share them here to benefit everyone in the Wellness Warriors Radio Community!