How Do I Eat Right On A Budget?
I’m not gonna lie: eating right costs money.
But consider that for every dollar you spend on (for instance) organic greens, there’s some other displaced food you didn’t eat, and I’m guessing some of that was expensive, too. Meat is certainly expensive, and so is fast food. Cheap, generic-brand sugared foods (Malt-O-Meal cereals, Kool-Aid, white bread)? Okay, they’re cheap. But you’ll save on health and dental costs avoiding them. And you can’t put a price on avoiding cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis. Good food is worth the money!
When we developed our 12 Steps to Whole Foods Menu Planner, our testers spent about $100/week on their groceries, for a family of four. That’s affordable by any standard. Of course, buying things in bulk, learning high-nutrition staples to have on hand and finding the best prices for them, and choosing inexpensive legumes and grains as the crux of the diet, besides greens, vegetables, and fruits, will save you money.
That said, these stats may surprise you. Check out this comparison of organic foods to a typical non-organic shopping trip.
I have some tips for you to keep save money, because I am pretty ridiculously frugal myself:
- Though it would be ideal to eat 100% organic, that’s not practical for most of us with limited means. I buy things organic if they’re no more than double what the “conventional” cost would be. I’m not going to pay $1.29/lb. for organic watermelon when conventional is selling for $0.25/lb.. Do what you can and wash your conventional produce well with a good, organic fruit/vegetable soap like Shaklee Basic H. Or, the best option, use the Lotus Sanitizing System to completely remove pesticides and herbicides using ozonated water.
- If you start doing green smoothies (and I hope you do, if I haven’t made that clear yet!) you’re going to need a lot of greens and fruit. I save money by owning a large freezer. I buy fruit in season or even ask to pick it from owners of neglected fruit trees (apricot trees often go unpicked here in Utah), cut it up in chunks, and put it in Ziploc baggies to freeze and use all winter when fruit is expensive.
- At Costco, I buy bananas for $0.33/lb. (and freeze them in chunks if they start to go bad), as well as $10 bags of frozen mixed berries (that’s not cheap, but it makes the smoothie SO good). Keep an eye out for produce sales and good prices and shop there.
- Grow spinach, chard, beets, cabbage, and kale in your garden. You can’t freeze greens for use in salads, but you can definitely freeze them for use in smoothies when your garden is overflowing! Plant them in the fall and you’ll have an abundance in the very early spring.
- Put edible weeds—free in any empty field—in your green smoothie. Purslane has a very mild flavor and can be found vining across the groundalmost anywhere, and it has more iron than any cultivated plant. Leaves of lambsquarter are good, and toss a bit of morning glory in there, too! You can eat thistle if you wear gloves to pick and chop it (it makes my daughter’s throat tickle, though). Google edible weeds to learn more and see photos—and you can see me with some lambsquarter on the left-side bar of this site. Don’t eat weeds in sprayed yards or exhaust-choked roadways.