How to eat clean when money is tight
5 tips for eating healthy on a budget
It is a common perception that eating healthy means spending an exorbitant amount of cash compared to normal grocery habits. While it’s true that eating healthy can be expensive, and that many successful entrepreneurs allocate a significant amount of their income to their nutrition, there are still definitely ways to eat more healthy when money is tight. Here are 5 tips to help you eat better on a budget.
- Get rid of the idea that unhealthy means cheap. I’ve met many people who say they don’t eat healthy because it’s expensive, but they are buying fast food, eating out, spending money on protein powders or other supplements, and stocking their pantry’s with unhealthy but not-necessarily cheap foods. If you are eating out or buying snacks at gas stations, that is the first thing you could cut out to significantly raise your grocery budget. Long story short, if you think that money is the reason you are not yet eating healthy, but you have not actually done a budget on your current grocery and food spending, then you don’t actually know.
- (Some) grains are your friends. Normally one of the staple pieces of eating healthy is to remove grains from your diet, however, some grains are infinitely better than processed crap that contains not only grains, but additives. Now, the specific grain I recommend is white rice, which can be bought in huge amounts for pennies. White rice, unlike most grains, is basically pure starch and is well-tolerated by most people. Yes, it is pure carbs, but if you already eat primarily processed foods with added sugar, it is much better to get your carbs instead from a natural source like rice. Essential, white rice burns clean in the body, and while it lacks nutrient content, it also does not contain anything overtly bad for you such as additives or allergens.
- Go frozen. The general idea of eating healthy is to 1. Eat real food. 2. Not too much. 3. Mainly vegetables. Without getting too complex, these rules generally apply to most, if not all good longevity-based diets. In particular, leafy green vegetables are low carb options with high nutrient contents, and have been the staple of the human diet, around the world, for thousands of years. Yes, protein is important, and vegans do chronically face health problems from lack of meat, mixed with a too-high grain intake, but we all generally do better with a high vegetable intake. Well, here’s where the budget option comes in: Buy frozen. Frozen vegetables are notoriously cheaper than those sold in the produce aisle, and you can get 16oz bags of Brussels sprouts for a dollar and change. Furthermore, frozen vegetables are actually more fresh than non-frozen! You see, frozen vegetables are flash frozen shortly after they are picked or cut. Non-frozen vegetables instead sit in a plane or truck for 6 to 8 hours before they appear on the shelves of your grocer. I personally buy lots of Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach or kale leaves. Spinach and kale are great for morning smoothies, and both broccoli and Brussels sprouts have some incredible health benefits as well as insane nutrient density. Generally, you do want to go organic to avoid pesticides, but it can still be cheap. A 32 oz bag of organic broccoli is $4 at whole foods, and will typically last me through 4 meals.
- Eggs! Eggs are one of the richest protein and healthy fat sources available, and even low-quality eggs have low toxin counts and are full of amino acids and omega fats. As usual, I always recommend getting free-range or at least cage-free, organic eggs. This can be the difference in paying $1.50 for a dozen eggs or paying $6.00 for eggs. The fact is, many people have sensitivities to eggs, but going higher quality can often allow such people to eat eggs without issue. Plus, a $6.00 carton of jumbo, organic, pasture-raised eggs will last me personally 6 meals. I add frozen vegetables and spices, but even then, I’m spending approximately $2.00 a meal, tops. Furthermore, since I may be on a budget and cannot afford as many healthy fats as I’d normally eat, eggs are a great way to address that. Same with protein. As you all probably know, meat is expensive, and a chicken or steak dinner might cost anywhere from $4 to $25 depending on the animal and the cut. Eggs bypass that issue really well, and often for a more complete protein base anyway.
- Buy local: If you know any farmers, or can find some, one of the best ways to get fresh produce is to go straight to the source. This often allows you to get much lower prices by cutting out the retail middle-man, and also allows you to get higher quality. Be it eggs, produce, or meat, this is one of the best ways to get your food if it is available to you. Another great tactic with meat is to invest in a meat freezer and start buying your meat by the half cow or more. You can get cheaper prices from a local butcher, while also stocking up for months of meals that would cost you an arm and a leg to buy from the store.
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