The "eating healthy is expensive" myth has officially been debunked. It's just not true anymore. I believe the root of this lie comes from branded "health foods." Pre-packaged goods that tout being healthy, but are just overpriced processed foods that look pretty. Eating OUT healthy can also be expensive, but cooking nutritious, healthy meals at home simply is not going to break the bank. Here are our tips on how to eat healthy on a budget.
1. Go for organic Generic Brands
These are very reasonably priced! Even Whole Foods' 365 organic brand is very affordable. And don't get me started on Trader Joe's (ok I'll start). I'm a huge TJ's ambassador. They have some of the lowest prices on fresh, organic produce and minimally processed packaged foods. Disclaimer: not everything there is healthy. But their health food selections are excellent.
2. Hit your local farmer's market
It doesn't get much cheaper than this, and they're popping up all over. Straight from the source produce, meat and even specialty items can be found here at rock bottom prices. Most of it is organic, and you're supporting local--which is a huge bonus!
3. Buy frozen organic foods
Frozen foods can sometimes have a bad wrap, but organic veggies, fruits and other foods lose very little of their nutritional value when frozen, and they're cheaper than fresh! You can keep healthy staples in the freezer and add a healthy boost to any meal.
4. Use the Dirty Dozen, Clean 15 cheat sheet
I keep a copy of this on my phone so I can reference it while I shop (hint hint). This will tell you which produce you can afford to buy non-organic because it's generally less contaminated with pesticides and toxins (Clean 15), and which ones you should buy organic because they're not (Dirty Dozen).
5. Know what's in season
I'm sure you've noticed that the prices of foods in the produce section rise and fall throughout the year. This is based on their natural availability. Blueberries are a summer fruit, so they're cheaper in the warmer months when they're able to grow naturally. In the winter, you're paying extra for having them imported from South America. Since you're shopping at your local farmer's market now ;) you'll only be able to buy what's in season anyway.
6. Keep it simple
Don't overcomplicate things! Every dish doesn't have to contain 20 superfoods and 5 rare root powders from the Amazon. Aim to eat a variety of real foods as much as possible: vegetables, rice and beans, raw nuts, eggs and lean meats (for our non-vegan friends). If you need something sweet, grab a piece of fruit or make a smoothie. When in doubt, dumb it down and start with the basics, then spice things up as you get more confident.
You know the right things to eat. It can be hard to make the right choices with our diets (looking at you office donuts), but it's time to stop using the excuse that it's too expensive. Times have changed! Healthy foods are affordable and abundant in most grocery stores in the US, you just have to make the decision to buy them :)