When it comes to grocery shopping, calories are cheap, but buying good nutrition can be a burden on the wallet. Why? Well healthy foods are usually priced higher due to increased production costs and added value. Also, food manufacturers know that we’ll pay a little more if we think their product is benefiting our health. However, now that the economy is down and people are striving to live as frugal as possible, it’s important to take a second glance at our food bills. The main question we should be asking is this – do we truly need to pay extra for some of the healthy items we’re buying?
It can sometimes take a nutritional detective to find the best healthy bang for your buck. However with some general knowledge, filling your stomach with healthy food shouldn’t be any more expensive than filling it with junk food. Here are some strategies to consider to drop your monthly grocery bill and possibly better your health.
The most common example of costly food is organic products. That little green label (Organic) may be the biggest reason people assume healthy eating equates to expensive eating. Nevertheless, a healthy diet is simply one plentiful in fruits and vegetables. Instead of worrying about whether produce is organic or not, your first priority should simply be eating enough fruits and vegetables in the first place. Evidence and research in the area of organic food is still underway and there isn’t definitive proof that it makes a large difference in our health. There’s no need to break the bank just to buy organic. If you are concerned with chemicals, use a produce spray to remove some of those pesticides instead. Or if you are struggling to buy enough fruits and vegetables in the first place, focus on less expensive frozen forms. These are flash frozen just hours after picking, and nutrition and quality is similar to those of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Acai berry, pomegranate juice, wheat grass, goji juice, olive leaf extract… These juices, supplements and products are just some of the unique items that carry a claim of “powerful antioxidant” qualities. They are also usually pretty expensive. Unfortunately, purchasing these may be the biggest waste of money because their overall nutritional value is mild at best. So why do so many people buy these products? In a world where we’re always looking for the quick and convenient fix, new and previously unheard of products catch our attention. There is no secret nutritional holy grail; a single medicinal food that will conquer today’s health ailments. All types of produce are good for us and no single source of antioxidants or vitamins is going to single-handedly make a difference in our overall health. Even our caffeinated friends, tea and coffee, provide a good source of daily antioxidants to prevent disease and fight cancer. They’re also inexpensive and loaded with up to 10 times the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables. Remember that a healthy diet consists of a variety of nutritious foods
High quality proteins
Proteins usually make up the largest part of our grocery bill, especially if we’re focused on building muscle. Items like lean meat, poultry and fresh fish are among the most expensive foods in stores. However, you can also get the quality protein from less expensive sources like low fat dairy, beans, nuts and eggs. Although lean meats should be an important part of your diet, non-meat sources of protein cost less and also serve to improve health.
The good buys
Here are some other inexpensive health foods:
- Dry beans and lentils – a good source of protein, slow digesting, and minimal prep time
- Greek yogurt – extremely cheap and a single serving can pack up to 15g of protein
- Old fashioned oatmeal – usually around .50 cents/lb and it provides complex carbohydrates, soluble fiber and B vitamins.
- Fresh spinach – one of the most nutrient dense foods and it can be used in salads, sandwiches, smoothies and wraps.
Eating healthy foods can be challenging but does not have to be expensive. As with anything, it just takes a little practice. Be skeptical of food items that cost significantly more than your other groceries. Chances are there are cheaper alternatives that provide similar, if not better, health benefits.