Many people think that eating healthy automatically equates to a hefty grocery bill every week. While it is true that real food may cost more compared to packaged food, there are many ways to keep your costs down and still nourish your body with those healthy ingredients!
Consider the fact that it takes a lot of labour to grow fruits, vegetables, crops, to raise and feed healthy animals and that it makes sense that there is a price to pay for higher quality food. A good question to ask yourself is why is packaged food so cheap? Most packaged food is highly processed and contains little to no real ingredients and includes many additives which extends their shelf life and lowers the cost. In fact, the mark-up on processed foods may be higher than on fresh food as it costs very little to manufacture and store as compared to real food which has a much shorter shelf life and is labour intensive.
There is a direct correlation between the quality of the food we are putting in our bodies and the way that we feel. If you filled your tank of gas with diesel when it runs on gasoline would your car function well? Similarly, our bodies are designed to recognize and break down real food with real ingredients and use that to fuel our cells and produce energy. When we consume processed foods the body gets confused as we are ingesting something “foreign” that the body doesn’t recognize. Over time various processes in the body begin to break down, especially the digestive process, as we continue to ingest ingredients that are foreign to the body. In time this will create inflammation, result in lack of energy, digestive issues, aches and pains, allergies, weight issues among others.
The best long-term strategy to stay healthy is to consume a balanced diet abundant in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and small amounts of healthy sources of animal protein (if you are not vegan or vegetarian). There is a lot of different information about various types of diets and some may work in the short-term but may have longer-term implications. We are all unique and different things work for different people. Try to focus on the food groups I mentioned above and bring in variety by trying different foods to get the widest range of nutrients.
Let’s look at some tips to eat healthy but still stay within a friendly budget:
Follow the Dirty Dozen/ Clean 15 list issued by the EWG to determine which produce should be purchased organic and which is “clean” of pesticides. The two lists give a good idea of the produce with the highest amounts of pesticides (which should always be bought organic) and the list of "clean" produce that is very low in pesticide levels (safe to consume non-organic), if you are trying to save some money.
Buy items in bulk by shopping at stores like Costco for items such as nuts, seeds, flours, oils, frozen fruits and vegetables.
Buy items that are package free – packaging adds a lot of mark-up cost to products such as nuts, seeds, flours etc. By purchasing these items from stores that carry them in bins you may save some extra money!
Incorporate more vegetarian sources of protein into your diet. Good quality animal proteins can be very expensive and the conventional meats contain hormones and antibiotics that will disturb your own hormones and digestive system. By incorporating more vegetarian sources of protein you will benefit your health and your wallet. Some good vegetarian sources of protein include various legumes, nuts, seeds (hemp seeds have all essential amino acids in them).
I hope you can incorporate some of these tips into your weekly grocery shopping and meal prep to start saving money and eating healthier. If you have any questions or comments I’d be happy to hear from you :)