Eating Healthy on a Budget

Image-1So living in Canada it’s hard to not notice the rising food costs (ehhem $8.00 cauliflower) and wonder how am I going to stick to my budget and still eat healthy. There are many neh sayers saying it’s cheaper to eat processed food then to grocery shop and have a well balanced meal. I do have to hand it to the fast food chains though, they have been marketing this for years, the idea that they are giving good food for cheap. For example the commercials with salads and saying they are serving high quality meat. Question what were they serving before?????!!!!!!

I admit with some grocery store chains it’s hard to see the benefit beyond the price tag and your ever emptying wallet. Also beyond the conveyance of a quick and sugar laced meal that smells and tastes good with little effort on your part. Question though how do you feel? Really feel after eating it, before bed, waking up in the morning? I know for me if I am not eating good food I feel kind of off after a while, not that great. As I have talked about in a previous blog post what goes in directly affects so many aspects of your life.  Eating the cheap, unhealthy “budget saving” food is not always going to save you in the long run. It’s going to cause inflammation, bloating, depression and many other health issues we don’t really want to think or talk about.

So that’s all fine and dandy you knew all that from high school health class right? How does this help with the rising costs and the shrinking wallet. Well it’s a long term thought but also a thought that you are worth a little effort in the kitchen and a planning. Planning is the first step to saving money, if you are always like shoot I didn’t think about what we are having for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks today the quick way out seems like the only solution last minute.  Planning is what you want to do once a week for about 20 – 30 minutes. That’s 20 – 30 minutes so you do not feel as stressed later and spend double that time in line ups grabbing something “quick”. Which by the way all those fast cheap items add up, so when you are looking at it from a simple cost savings, are you really saving?

Sit down with a pen and paper or tablet (I am a pen and paper kinda girl) and write down each day.

For example

Monday

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks

Repeat for each day of the week and think “what will we eat on this day?”, after you figure that out or have a rough idea, which you can get from cookbooks, internet, local library etc.  There are so many places to get information that this should not be any issue. Next you look at that list and try to remember you need to make these items ,so roasted duck with, gnocchi might not be a great beginners meal and not very cost saving (unless  you really got an in on duck).  This list of what you are going to make will tell you what you need to buy and how much. Check your cupboards and see what you have, then add the items your missing to your list.

For Example

Monday

  • Breakfast – Steel oats with jam / coffee

I will need to make sure I have steel oats, possibly a milk product, jam and coffee. You do this for everyday and then you have a detailed grocery list that will keep you from buying items you do not need and limit food waste.

Another way to save and keep it healthy is to buy in season! If you are planning on fresh strawberries all winter then you are going to pay though the nose! Online is a great recourse for this and even going to your local farmers market is great as they generally have a list of what is in season written somewhere.  The in season foods will cost less (most of the time) and generally be in better shape. They also might be more likely to have deals on the in season foods, as they will be more plentiful at the time. I know you are thinking now but I want strawberry smoothies for my breakfast, well frozen will be your best bet. They will be flash frozen and last way longer than buying the half dead fresh ones. Also if you compare prices from the 2KG bag VS the 454g basket you might just be swayed by the actual cost savings. Once you are ready to shop it is a great idea to check out your stores flyer, which you can get online or see at the front of the store, this will let you know what’s on sale or if they are having any specials. For example some stores to a $5.00 day on fruit and vegetables or a no tax day.

Buying in season also ties in with buying local, which I know can be hard with a lot of major grocery stores buying from other countries. I am very luck that I have 2 or 3 local grocers near my home plus regular farmers markets. These let me buy in season and local a lot more readily, but even if you only have one check it out once and a while and see what they carry and what those items cost. You might be very surprised that they always have a regular staple in your home for .50cents less than the big box store near you. Farmers markets are my favorite though and they also help create a family activity or some nice couple time. It gets you talking about what you are buying and lets you and your family, know where the food came from and how it was grown. Those farmers are a wealth of information and are almost always happy to share.

Now this other way of saving ties into your planning okay everything ties into your planning) and is to cut out meat once a week.  I know this is not everyone’s cup of tea or you may be like “hey I cut out meat 7 days a week”. If this is the case then great you are already saving quite the bit if you are eat a healthy well balanced vegetarian diet. If not then cutting it out once a week is as not as bad as you think. This does not mean you don’t get any protein; you just look at other sources like beans, tofu, quinoa etc. With increasing costs, meat is almost the first to creep up. Cutting it out once a week will help cut costs in your home and might even do your family some good. We as a developed nation tend to eat way more protein then we need in a day. This also can lead to a lot of health problems. Meatless Monday is something that has been around for a long time and is a great way to introduce other foods into your home.

The above ideas are just that, ideas on how to keep eating healthy without hurting your wallet in the process. They also help get you and your family more familiar with what is being served. Being informed about where your food is coming from and how to cook it is a great skill to pass along, eating healthy and working out a food budget.

I hope this helps get the juices flowing on how to stay eating healthy even as the food prices seem unreasonable.

Hope everyone has a great week!

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