I received an email with a really fantastic question, so I thought I’d just make a post out of it.
A Few Thoughts on Budgeting to Eat Healthy:
- Eating healthy costs a lot. It just does. There’s no way around. It’s sad but eating pb and j and frozen pizza is cheaper. I’ve heard the argument so many times, “You will make it back in doctor bills.” While I believe that can totally be true, I know it doesn’t really help in the immediate or make it any easier.
- Do not believe the lie that’s it all or nothing! I don’t believe that for a second. If you can’t buy organic, do not worry about it. Seriously, don’t even sweat it. Now, I am no doctor, but if I bet money I’d feel pretty confident saying that if you stop eating processed junk and copious amount of sugar, but move to a more whole foods type diet your body is going to thank you! If you can afford some, do your own research. Consider the dirty dozen.
- Find your family favorites and make them cheap. Not every meal has to be a production. Find a family favorite that makes your family happy, but is cheap. Make it regularly! It may take experimenting to find that meal, but I am sure you will find it. Shoot for at least one vegetarian meal a week. That will absolutely lower your bill. Two of my family’s frugal favorites are black bean burgers and cauliflower pizza.
- Cut your costs in non-food categories. Since eating healthy does cost more find ways to save in other areas. For example, we don’t have cable but have Netflix. I buy my diapers at Aldi instead of using pampers. You get the idea!
- Shop at different stores, but not all in the same week. I’ve found that certain stores have much cheaper healthier options, but no one store is overall cheaper. However, when I go to more than one store a week I lose valuable time and energy and I am more tempted to buy things I don’t need. Instead, I stock up on the cheaper items and rotate between Aldi, Walmart, Kroger, and Costco.
- Slowly stock up. Always walk by the organic aisle and if something is marked down, grab it! Eventually your pantry will be stocked with healthy ingredients. Tailor this to your family’s needs. If you don’t have a soy allergy in your family, you probably don’t need to go out and buy the pricey coconut aminos, but choose the healthiest soy sauce you can find. If you are trying to lower your family’s intake of refined sugar start with honey, since it’s the cheapest low glycemic sugar. Eventually you won’t be buying this stuff every week, but will have slowly replaced your unhealthy items with healthier options.
Shopping and Cooking Healthy without Losing Your Mind:
- If possible don’t cook three meals in a row. You think I make everything homemade, right? I don’t. I can’t. My kids like to see me, you know, occasionally not in the kitchen. We typically do Lara bars and fruit for breakfast. Yay for no clean up! Lara bars are pricey, though. Try these filling breakfast cookies that cost pennies. My kids love them! And if I am really winning at life, my gluten light kids eat a healthy sandwich and veggies and I eat left overs from dinner the night before. This also really helps with the budget!
- Give yourself grace as you figure things out! It takes time. It’s basically like learning how to cook and shop all over again. Find what items are cheaper at each store and stock up on them when they go on sale or when you are there.
- Get your entire family on board. Having your spouse’s support will help tremendously and will really help keep you on track with both eating healthy and saving money in other areas.
- Cook in Batches. Make your time and money count! It’s usually cheaper to make more of one thing than than a whole bunch of different things. I love making a lot of shredded chicken and putting some in the freezer for later. This is great if chicken is on sale one week!
I’m planning some posts about my favorite (cheaper) healthy items from different stores! I hope this helps and I’d love to hear other people’s tips. I know we can all learn from each other!