Many people have a preconceived idea of what "healthy eating" has to look like. What does healthy eating look like/mean to you? It's possible that people believe that they have to buy all organic food, grass-fed meats, eat out at vegan restaurants, and buy expensive juices and smoothies, (which CAN be expensive).
Yes, those foods are definitely great healthy choices for the most part, but they're definitely not the only choices. You can eat a very healthy diet on any budget. And the important thing to remember is that you are investing in yourself, and the quality of your food can determine the quality of your future. That means you can invest in your diet now and potentially avoid costly medical care and prescriptions in the future. Here are some of the best practices to stay on budget:
1) Buy in bulk. Grains, like brown rice and oats, nuts, and beans can be purchased from bulk bins at the grocery store and are great pantry staples to have on hand.
2) Stay local. Visit a farmer's market for produce. If you don't have a farmer's market near you, buy what's in season at the grocery store.
3) Buy organic if it's on sale, or buy organic frozen (which is typically cheaper than fresh organic) if you choose to eat organic food. Otherwise, you can wash fresh conventional produce with a lemon and vinegar solution to remove pesticide residue.
4) Frozen is next best to fresh/local. Fresh fruits and vegetables are harvested and preserved at the source (often sooner than fresh produce gets into your hands), preserving it's nutritional integrity. And canned foods can also provide a healthful option on a budget - especially canned seafood like wild caught Alaskan salmon.
5) Better yet, grow your own herbs and veggies if you have a green thumb! You can even get in some physical activity while you tend the garden.
6) Stock up when healthy products are on sale, such as whole grain pasta and cereals that meet the standard for a healthy choice.
7) If it's not on sale, or a good time to stock up on something, then only buy what you need. Plan out what meals you'll be cooking for the next few days, make a list, and stick to the list.
8) A great resource for budget friendly healthy recipes and tips is plantbasedonabudget.com
9) Cook healthy meals in large batches and freeze some meals to have available. Or as you prepare to make a meal in a crock pot, you can double the ingredients and place the 2nd batch of prepped ingredients in a freezer bag. That way if you prefer not to have food that's already been cooked and frozen, you can prep and freeze. Then, just place the prepped ingredients into the crock pot the morning you know you'll need a low involvement meal that evening. This way you can avoid purchasing costly meals when you're not prepared with a healthy option.
The most important aspect of eating a health promoting diet is consistency. So building up your pantry stock over time and having recipes that you can prepare is an important part of being successful. Knowing what and when to buy is also a strategy you'll want to master as you gradually make changes to your diet to nourish your body without draining your wallet.