Eating healthy on a budget is easy with a bit of planning, creativity and yes, work. I have been eating delicious, extremely healthy meals for a reasonable amount of money for years, and so can you.
Follow these tips to obtain optimal health and high energy without breaking the bank.
Buy oatmeal in bulk - much less expensive than the instant packages which are also loaded with sugar. The thick, old-fashioned oats are more substantial than the quick oats. Soak them over night and cook them in a double boiler over water.
Now you can take all the time you want getting your self and your kids up and ready while your breakfast cooks unattended. Towards the end of cooking add in anything you like. Sliced bananas and walnuts, raisins, chopped apricots, cinnamon, sunflower seeds, ground flax seeds, fresh or frozen berries.
Another really cheap, good, hot cereal for a change:
Cream of brown rice cereal. Grind the rice in a coffee grinder until fine powder, add water or milk alternative and cook until thick.
Buy cereal in large bags (Nature's Path is good). Compare the price per pound to other cereals. It is good value. Make your own homemade granola.
Eggs are still inexpensive, perfect for eating healthy on a budget, and necessary for those who need protein, ie. those who have sugar cravings. Worried about cholesterol? A runny yolk will have negligible effects on cholesterol levels so go for soft boiled or poached.
Invest in a bread making machine for healthy, inexpensive breads. You can often find bread machines on sale. I bought mine 40% off. There is nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread. Buying your stone-ground whole grain flour in bulk cuts costs, or stock up on spelt and kamut flour for a healthy bread. Avoid white flour as it is very acidifying for the body and has no nutritional value.
If you find a favorite loaf of healthy bread at the health food store check the label for the address of the bakery. In Montreal I go directly to the bakery to buy my favorite Inewa sourdough kamut bread for a fraction of the price it costs in the store. I buy 5 loaves and freeze them and invariably they throw in free muffins or an extra loaf. Frugal eating at it's best!
Buy berries in season (from a farmers' market) or better yet, pick your own organic berries and make preserves with just a little bit of raw sugar or other natural sweetener, and can or freeze in jars. An inexpensive, delicious spread that's low in sugar.
Brown bag it!
Eating out is very expensive. If you are trying to save money, avoid it
at all costs! You will need a good wide-mouth thermos for your home made
soups and stews, some sturdy plastic containers, a lunch bag, even a
place-mat is a nice touch. Also make sure you have, or buy, a small
leak-proof container to transport your homemade salad dressings.
Often store brands of tuna and salmon come in low-sodium or no-sodium for a better price than the brand names.
Sardines cost about 1$ per tin, are very healthy, high in Omega 3, and
low in mercury and other contaminants that are abundant in larger fish.
Do not consume processed meat of any kind as the nitrates and nitrites used in processing are carcinogenic.
You can make a whole lot of extra food or sandwiches and freeze them. Always keep some raw veggies on hand, and some lettuce that is washed that you can keep separate to add in to your sandwiches at the last minute. (Nothing worse than soggy lettuce in a sandwich!)
Once again, always be prepared. No matter where I am going I never leave home without a healthy snack, usually my home made trail mix, sometimes other snacks such as home made muffins, or home made power bars etc.
Save lots of money and stay healthy by bringing your own snacks rather than buying unhealthy snacks on the go.
Organic popcorn bought in bulk and cooked in a hot air popper is a healthy, very cheap snack for home.
In keeping with our eating healthy on a budget, why not plan a few vegetarian meals for dinners? Casseroles with beans and a whole grain. A block of tofu, marinated and sautéd in a stir fry or in a casserole, can feed a family of four for a few dollars.
Chicken is always on sale somewhere.
Stock up on it when it is, or check the price of whole chickens,
usually much cheaper. I always roast 2 chickens at a time. When they are
cold I remove all the meat and freeze in bags for quick easy meals. Of
course the bones go into a pot for soup stock.
Unless you are
buying red meat that is organic (which is pricey) reduce red meat
consumption to once per week or less to save money and live longer. Make
some meals with beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas etc.
If you don't eat red meat take a good quality liquid B12 supplement, taken daily for three months, once a year. Women under 50 who do not eat red meat would be wise to take a high quality iron supplement occasionally.
Buy seasonal in large quantities.
Montreal we have a short growing season so when seasonal produce is
fresh, at it's peak and inexpensive, I get an organic veggie basket from
a co-op every 2 weeks or I head to the farmers' market and then get
busy in my kitchen.
Of course there's no end to what you can make with seasonal vegetables; creamed soups, pickles, sauces, ketchup, etc.
Beans are so Cheap!!
Cook and freeze in 2 cup quantities for hummus, black bean soup, black bean burgers, chilis, casseroles, etc.
If you have to chop up one branch of celery you can line up 5 or more and chop them in the same amount of time. I always double or triple soup recipes and freeze them in small containers for future lunches or meals.
I always cook large quantities of brown rice, quinoa, other grains and pasta and keep them cold in the fridge (you can even freeze brown rice if you like.) Add to salads, soups, etc, for balanced meals that are filling and give you ample energy to sustain you all day long. Avoid White bread, white pasta and white rice that increases your glycemic level, acidity level and leave you tired and hungry shortly after.
If you have a backyard take advantage of it to grow your own organic vegetables. Even if you live in an apartment you can grow parsley, basil and any other herbs, tomatoes etc, in pots on your balcony.
There are many kinds of food co-ops that can save you lots of money. My
favorite in Montreal is La Ferme Bleue, an organic farm that delivers
organic vegetable "baskets" to a drop off point in Montreal every week.
For a minimal fee we get a huge variety of freshly picked organic
vegetables and herbs all summer and fall. Nothing could be better. It's
like Christmas, receiving different, super fresh veggies in season each
Stock up on items when they are on sale, know and compare prices, shop wisely. Do you realize how much you are paying someone to grate your cheese for you, when you could do it in 20 seconds? Stay away from packaged, processed foods, and foods that are already prepared.
Yes, it is more time consuming to prepare things from scratch on your own, but aren't you worth the time it takes to do it?
In the end, you will live a long and healthy life.
The payoff is clear!
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