The broke person's guide to healthy on a budget!
It's no secret that eating healthy, organic food is more important than ever! With rising rates of obesity, cancer, & cardiovascular disease the best and most effective cure is prevention. A diet based on whole, real foods, little to no processed foods and minimal exposure to pesticides, herbicides and synthetic hormones is your best shot at prevention. I know healthy food can be expensive but it doesn't have to be. Eating healthy and organic on a budget is doable. And it will save you thousands in future health costs, so view it as an investment...on your life!
1. Alright, first things first, you are going to have to get used to grocery store hopping! I do my grocery shopping once a week and I go to 2-3 grocery stores to get everything I need. Your first time doing this set aside some extra time to make mental notes of the prices on your essentials at different places. You will start to notice where your favorite essentials are the cheapest. For example I know I can get the best deal and biggest bag of quinoa at Target! Generally I hit up Trader Joe's first, then Kroger then Whole Foods for more specialty items that the other stores do not carry. Here are some of the best Grocery Stores for bargains on organic & natural foods:
Trader Joe’s- the prices on their organic fruits and veggies is unbeatable!
Whole Foods – their in house 365 brand is very affordable
Kroger – a lot of them have entire sections just for natural foods now!
Target- their brand Simply Balanced is very affordable!
Sprouts- their sales are unbeatable! (and they always have them!)
Costco- they have started carrying affordable (and large sizes!) of healthy staples like coconut oil, chia seeds, wild caught salmon, almond milk, Kerrygold grassfed butter, etc
Online shops like Vitacost & Amazon have great deals on staples like quinoa, chia seeds, canned beans, nuts, etc
2. Learn your staples! Knowing exactly what to buy that is not only affordable but that you will be able to get the most out of your pantry is essential. Here are the staples that (with a little bit of planning) you can cook with all week long!
- Organic Eggs: $4.99 for a dozen
- Avocados- places like Trader Joes, Whole Foods & Kroger have them in bags of 4 for $3.99. Eat half an avocado a day and that's 8 servings of avocado!
- Oats- A bag will cost you around $2.99 and will last for at least 2 weeks if not longer
- Quinoa- $4.99 Whole Foods brand
- Chia Seeds -$4.99
- Organic Canned beans - mix it up every week with a different can or two of Chickpeas, black beans, white northern beans, canelinni beans, lentils, pinto beans $1.99 ea
- Organic Frozen Fruits and Veggies- frozen peas, broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers, mixed berries, blueberries, etc range from $1.99-$3.99
- Ground bison- $9.99 a lb - for one person this will last 4 servings - the reason I suggest bison is because by US law Bison are not allowed to be treated with antibitoics and hormones and have to be pasture raised (grass fed!)
- Natural Organic Peanut Butter- $4.99
- Organic Kale (or other similar leafy greens such as collards, bok choy, chard)- $1.99 ea
- Organic packaged lettuce- mixed greens, romaine, etc $3.99 ea
- Canned Fish- tuna or wild caught salmon. Good brands will cost you $3.99-$6.99 but you can get two servings out of them
- Organic Apples Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have pre-bagged apples for $5.99- in this case organic is important since conventional apples are the #1 most chemically sprayed fruit
- Salsa- $1.99 and a great addition to meals for extra flavor
- Can or jar of tomato sauce - $1.99-$3.99
- Mixed raw nuts - prices vary- great for snacking or adding into salads for extra protein and crunch
Depending on how much you buy this will put you around $50-$60/week. Keep in mind some of these staples only need to be bought every few weeks (such as quinoa, oats & peanut butter)
3. EASY QUICK MEALS WITH YOUR STAPLES
- Oatmeal with frozen berries, chia seeds & tbsp of Peanut Butter
- Breakfast quinoa made like oatmeal, topped with frozen berries & peanut butter
- Two eggs with steamed greens, avocado and salsa
- Quinoa bowl with mixed frozen veggies, bison and salsa
- Quinoa bowl with beans, avocado and salsa
- Quinoa with bison and tomato sauce (a healthy twist on spaghetti and meatballs)
- Salad with kale, apples, and nuts
- Salad with kale, avocado chickpeas and fish
- Steamed greens (kale or other similar) with bison, fish or eggs and salsa
- Soup made up of water boiled over the stove with mixed frozen veggies, sea salt and various beans
- "Poor man's chili" of mixed beans, bison, and chili powder served over quinoa and topped with avocado
- Apples with peanut butter
- Handful of nuts
- Hard boiled eggs
- Chia seed pudding
Don't forget! If you don't have junk food in your house then you won't eat it! Leave me a comment with some of your favorite pantry and fridge staples!