Eating Healthy: Not As Expensive As You Thought

A lot of people argue that they can’t eat healthy because their budget doesn’t allow it. The fact is, the argument doesn’t hold water. True, a tight budget will not go far with health food store grass-fed, free-range meats and organically grown vegetables, but there are plenty of healthy foods that you can purchase in the supermarket that are well within your budget. Even more importantly, there are many items you can begin leaving off your list.

Eggs

Eggs are a cheap yet healthy source of protein that you can use for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks. Start your day with an omelet, chop some hard-boiled eggs up for your salad, or dig into a low-fat vegetable quiche for dinner. If you’re concerned about your cholesterol, limit your egg yolk intake to one per day. At 15 cents each, eggs are a highly economical meal.

Beans

There’s probably no food cheaper that will go farther in your pantry than dried beans. Stock up on bags of lentils, navy beans, kidney beans, black beans, and pigeon peas. You can make dishes of rice and beans (broth-based or tomato-based), throw them into your salads, add them to pasta, or make your soup heartier with beans-- all for about $1 per pound.

Oatmeal

If you want to load up on some complex carbohydrates and fiber, forget bread. Get yourself a canister of rolled oats. For 20 cents per day, you’ll have a heart-healthy breakfast. That leaves room in the budget for flavorings: stir in a spoonful of honey, chop up half an apple, or toss in a handful of walnuts.

Frozen Vegetables

The price of fresh produce can send some people on a budget to duck and cover, but the fact is that the best bang for your buck is in the freezer section. Since frozen veggies are flash-frozen very shortly after being picked, they often retain even more nutrients than the produce that spent days traveling by truck or has been sitting in the supermarket bins. Buy big family-sized bags to really save money—you can open the bag, take out as big a serving as you want, roll up and close the bag with a clip and return them to the freezer. You can get all five servings of veggies for less than $2 per day.

What to Leave Off

The real difference in buying healthy foods will not depend on what you add to the list, but what you remove. Part of the reason people are in shock when the grocery bill goes up when they buy lean meats and veggies is because they’re still buying their sugary cereals, soft drinks, canned goods, white flour products, and pre-packaged snack items. If you want to free up funds for healthier food, you have to drop a lot of other items from the list. It’s important to prioritize and decide what’s really more important to you—your habits, or your health.

Photo: Pexels

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