How To Spend Less and Eat Healthier

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How To Spend Less and Eat Healthier

You don’t have to buy into the myth that unprocessed whole foods are expensive? If you looking for ways to eat more healthfully, but are concerned about the cost, here are easy ideas for helping you eat delicious food while also managing your time and your budget

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Did you know that you don’t have to buy into the myth that unprocessed whole foods are expensive?  The vast majority of US food expenditures are on processed, prepared, and packaged foods which, typically, do not nourish our bodies as much as we’d like them to, for the amount we spend on them. Have you seen the price of a case of soda, frozen pizzas, or sugar-filled boxed breakfast cereals? 

When we buy these foods, what are we really getting for our money? While the power of marketing has made it seem that that is all there is to eat, and that any cooking at all is extremely difficult, I am here to tell you that that is simply not true! Buying, preparing and eating whole foods can be not just satisfying to our appetites, but can strengthen our connection to our families and our communities.

Try tracking your food expenses before and after trading out canned goods for dried goods, packaged meals for home-cooked, restaurant grabs for a sack lunch, and sugary snacks for a handful of nuts or fruit.  You’ll find that your budget and your belt will tighten up a notch.

If you looking for ways to eat more healthfully, but are concerned about the cost, here are 18 Quick and Easy Ideas for helping you eat delicious food while also managing your time and your budget:

  1. Plan your menu for the week and minimize waste by buying only what you need

  2. Make your own soup stock using water, carcasses, whatever herbs or spices you have on hand, and produce waste (peels, wilted veg on its last legs, stalks you don’t want to eat, etc.)

  3. Grow container plants to have cheap, easy access to herbs and kitchen basics – cherry or pear tomatoes, a strawberry pot, and herbs like chives and basil.

  4. Buy whole, rather than canned, ingredients and prepare them yourself – i.e., pumpkin, beans, etc.  Can’t beat <$1.00 per pound of healthy food.

  5. Buy foods when they are on sale.  Bulk goods will store well, produce will keep in the fridge for a bit, and, meats can be frozen until you need them.

  6. Stock up on seasonal produce and freeze it.  This is particularly a good thing to do with seasonal items that are at the height of flavor.  Lemons and limes: squeeze and make ice cubes, store in a freezer bag.  Pumpkin: roast and freeze pureed meat in glass jars.  Berries: rinse, let dry, lay out on a cookie sheet to freeze, place in freezer bag.  Greens: Rinse, dry, pack into freezer bag for use in soups, casseroles, etc.  Chilies: roast, skin and de-seed, freeze separately and then place in freezer bag.  Etc…

  7. Pack your own lunch and fill up with fresh fruit and vegetables, raw nuts, and salads with filling and healthy toppings.

  8. Move over Lean Cuisine! Make extra soups, casseroles, etc. and freeze them in individual serving sizes to have your own healthy and affordable frozen lunches!

  9. Do not throw out leftovers-long-forgotten.  Instead, as soon as you’ve prepared a dish, estimate the number of times you are willing to eat it as leftovers before you get tired of it and immediately freeze the rest for another day.  A month from now, it will look pretty tasty.

  10. Buy items in bulk and store them in air-tight glass jars.

  11. Store bought meats are not only full of hormones and antibiotics, but are also relatively expensive. Check out or to find producers of grass-fed meats that are closest to you.

  12. Join a community food co-op.  Some communities bring together seasonal produce and locally-made food stuffs and make them available to the community at lower prices than they could be found elsewhere.

  13. Choose frozen over canned fruits and vegetables if you are buying them at the store.  Generally, they have fewer preservatives, taste fresher, and are cheaper.  Keep in mind that canned goods often include liquid which you will discard, making the net weight of the fruit or vegetables lower than that listed on the can.

  14. Make food from scratch rather than buy pre-packaged or processed foods.  Not only will you have more control over what goes into your food, but you won’t be paying for extra packaging, marketing, and other costs that come with prepared foods or eating out.  To save on your own packaging and minimize waste, buy yourself some air-tight, BPA-free plastic containers or glass jars with seals to store freezer goods in.

  15. Create a meal swap or exchange meals with a friend that shares your tastes and interest in eating whole, unrefined foods.  Agree on what types of food or meals and how many portions you’ll swap and how often, and then benefit from someone else’s cooking skills and creativity.

  16. Be creative, try a new fruit or vegetable because it’s on sale and then figure out a way to use it – add it to a salad, throw it in a soup, let it be a centerpiece to a meal.

  17. Celebrate good health and good taste with friends by sharing a delicious whole foods potluck meal.

  18. Keep things simple.  Some of the best meals are ones with few ingredients.  Keeping things simple allows a core ingredient to shine, makes cooking easier, and minimizes shopping and waste.  It also allows you to focus on the quality of your ingredients and get the most flavors out of them.