How to Shop for Healthy Food on a Budget

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It finally seems like the world is waking up and becoming more and more aware of what they eat – trying to kick their old ways. And with the ever growing awareness that leading a healthy lifestyle is hugely impacted by the nutrition we consume, people everywhere are trying to ditch their old heavily processed foods, for more organic, naturally wholesome choices.

It has become more and more apparent over the last few years that what you put into your body can have severe effects on your health in the long term; and that although the ill effects may not be prominent now, they may one day catch up with you.

With the rise of diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and constant elevated blood pressure, it’s no wonder people are finally taking action to clean up their diets. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report that healthy eating helps prevent high cholesterol, high blood pressure and helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.1

What’s even more promising is that it’s not just the public that are trying to take action against poor nutrition, but governments are starting to take action also. In September 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that there would be a whopping $31 Million cash injection to enable the public to make healthy eating choices. Amen to that!

But one thought that seems to be pretty consistent among the people who are fairly new to healthy eating is the notion that eating healthy food is draining on the wallet.

Whilst there is partial truth to that, the problem is more the choices that people are making rather than the cost of the food itself. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be costly, and it is easily achievable on a budget. The trick to it is making smart choices which allow you to get a good variety of wholesome foods without breaking the bank.

How to Shop for Healthy Food on a Budget

Go Unprocessed and Whole Grain

Processed foods are more often than not likely to contain man made preservatives and coloring. They are also nowhere near as healthy for you as unprocessed foods because they don’t always contain the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals that unprocessed foods have. Of course, it’s hard to avoid sometimes, but try to limit them.

For carbohydrates, try to buy whole grain foods like brown pasta, rice, whole wheat bread, rolled oats, legumes and potatoes. Not only are these foods pretty cheap, but they are also much higher in fiber when compared to their processed equivalents.

An increase in fiber means you are likely to be fuller for longer and can help reduce the amount you consume. Not only that, but the fiber will also keep your digestion system in good shape!

Broaden Your Protein Horizons

To get your proteins on a budget, try to think outside the box which is normally chicken and beef. Canned tuna is a great option at less than $2.00 per serving and there is so much you can do with it. Try cooking it up with some fresh chopped tomatoes, red peppers and spices, then serving it over whole wheat pasta – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Also, why not try out some cuts of meat that are less common. Liver is a great source of complete proteins and packed with vitamin A, B and Zinc, and it goes deliciously with trimmed bacon and onions.

Other tasty yet low cost protein sources include cottage cheese (great with fruit and sweetener), low fat yogurts, whole milk and eggs.

Another option for getting a good bang for your buck with protein is to buy it in supplement form. Whey protein powders can be found dirt cheap, and you can use it to make delicious shakes and even incorporate it into baking.

Buy Frozen

Vegetables and fruits can be costly if you want to buy a nice and wide variety. Luckily, frozen mixed vegetables and fruits are at hand. There’s nothing wrong with buying frozen. Not only will you be able to get a wide selection, but they will last you longer and you only need to take out what you are going to eat, so you’re never throwing away old rotten products. That saves you money and time!

Try to look for fresh-frozen; meaning the ones that are frozen almost instantly after being harvested. This kind of frozen veg is often more nutritious for you because the fresh produce has had time to degrade on the shelf! Amazing right?

Frozen chicken is also typically cheaper than fresh and offers the convenience of lasting a lot longer. Just be sure to check that it hasn’t been loaded with water and dextrose.

Go Store Branded

One of the simplest ways to decrease your weekly food bill is to swap out your well-known brands for store brands. This can be applied to almost anything these days as large hypermarket style grocery stores manufacture almost everything. For example, the difference in store branded oats vs a well-known oat brand is almost two-fold. Oats are oats, and in reality the differences between these two products should be near unnoticeable, so why wouldn’t you buy store brand? This applies to a lot of produce, so swap them out, they’ll save you big money in the long run.

Keep An Eye On The Discount Isle

This is a good way to get great discounts on meat, fish and poultry. You will often find discounts of 60-70% and sometimes more, simply because the meat is near to its expiration date. This doesn’t mean the produce is bad or old, it just means you either need to use it, or freeze it.


References:
Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture; 2010.

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