Heart disease is a killer. So is type 2 diabetes.
Anyone can get these diseases, but you can greatly reduce your chances by eating a healthy diet.
So then why don’t we all eat healthy meals every day?
Well first off, because fatty, processed, high-carb food tastes great, despite how it makes you feel.
But it’s also about price, right? Eating healthy is expensive. But it doesn’t have to be.
Our family of 6 spends less than $400 on groceries each month. It wasn’t always like this, it takes strategy and planning.
Here are some unique things we have done that you can do too, to eat healthy and save money…
1. Plan Your Meals Around Sales
Buy the marked down meat or the produce that’s on sale. Then you can plan meals around sale prices. If you make a menu for upcoming meals, just write down “meat” or “vegetable”, then you can decide which type to get based on what’s on sale.
The more variety you enjoy with meat and fresh produce, the easier it is to spend less on healthy meals. If you like all types of produce, you can buy what’s on sale during that season. You will also have an easier time finding meat on sale, if you eat all different kinds.
2. Drink Your Own Water
Everyone knows that water should be your main drink, but not all water is the same. If you’re trying to pay off debt, water should be your only drink. Have you tried your tap water? You can find reports on the quality of your tap water here. If it tastes bad, try using a filter, as long as it’s safe to drink. Our family uses a basic inexpensive Britta filtered pitcher. If you want to go a step further, or if you have really bad water try something like this or this.
You should be drinking water when you go out to eat too. This is a huge money saver, especially if you have a large family. You may forego eating out to save money and that’s a great plan, but if you don’t, I would urge you to consider drinking water.
The average American family eats out 3 times per week! If we assume that a glass of soda is $2, with just one child, that’s $6/meal or $18/week that an average family spends on not drinking water. That’s almost $1,000 in one year spent on drinks! This doesn’t even include beer, wine and alcohol, which would show even more staggering numbers.
3. Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating, not a diet. It doesn’t focus on what you eat , it’s more about when you eat. The idea behind it is that you eat in a specific window of time each day. The most common time-frame is noon-8PM. There are several benefits to this method of eating, including increased fat loss. When your body is in a fasted state, you burn more calories. Common diets, such as the Atkins, that require you to consume little or no carbohydrates (to achieve a state of ketosis) have been proven to be bad for your long term health and shown to cause more problems than good. It’s also almost impossible to stick with an Atkins style diet as a lifestyle.
I practice intermittent fasting and have experienced great results. It’s definitely more cost-effective. I only eat 2 meals per day now instead of 4 or 5. Don’t believe all the hype about needing to eat several small meals per day. There have been no proven studies to show that eating several small meals increase your metabolism. This is just mainstream hype, mostly created by magazine articles. Sure, my meals are bigger, but overall I am eating less food, which means I am spending less money on food. Only eating 2 meals per day also makes it easier to buy your food in bulk, since you’re eating more at a time.
4. Find a Food Co-Op
Here in Oklahoma, we have a food co-op called Bountiful Baskets that reaches many cities. A food co-op is a place to get fresh, usually local, low-priced produce. It’s generally ran by volunteers, so make sure to help out, but the savings are worth every penny.
Go here to find a food co-op near you. There are even some listed in Canada, Australia and Europe.
5. Buy Frozen Fruit and Veggies
It’s important to include a lot of fruit and vegetables in a healthy diet. Buying fresh is always the best option for the most nutrition, but buying frozen is a close second and you don’t have to worry about all the sodium of canned food. Frozen fruits are great for shakes, smoothies or simply letting them thaw and eating. Not only are frozen veggies easy to prepare, they also takes up less space than fresh veggies.
6. Stop Buying Junk Food
Not only is junk food unhealthy, but it’s expensive. There is no reason to put it in your shopping cart. There is nothing wrong with the occasional bag of cookies or box of snack cakes, but it shouldn’t be a regular purchase. Use that money on meat, fruit or veggies. Our family only buys junk food when we go on vacation. It’s more of a treat than an everyday thing.
These are only a few tips to save money while eating healthy. If you want to eat healthy, you will make it happen. You will find a way.
Don’t fall prey to the general mindset that “you can’t afford to eat healthy”. That’s no excuse. There are ways to afford eating healthy and it’s very possible for you to do it.
It all comes down to having a plan, creating a solid budget and being mindful of where your money is going when you enter the grocery store. Make a list and stick to it.
One final point: I hear a lot of people talk about how spending $400/month works in some parts of the country, but not in the high-cost areas. That’s just an excuse. We’ve been able to spend this little in Oklahoma, but we also spent this little in San Diego, CA. The bigger the city, the more options you have, which means often times you can find even lower prices. You just have to go find them.