So often I hear people say they can’t afford to eat well. Food becomes a distant priority for many as opposed to mortgages, bills, gasoline…the list goes on. It’s true, the banksters can’t sick collections on you for having an empty stomach. What’s also true is you’ve only been given this one body, and if your healthy, you’re happy, productive, and more equipped to live up to your true potential. But people give up. There’s too much confusion surrounding what’s considered “healthy”. People think products labeled “natural” “low fat” or “sugar free” are healthy solutions – when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.
Lets simplify and put it all in to perspective, eating well doesn’t have to be complicated, you don’t have to break the bank, or be an amazing chef. There are ample solutions to equip anyone with an arsenal of money saving tips and tricks.
Ask yourself some serious questions, what serves you more cable TV or a big box of fresh vegetables for your family every week? A 6-pack or a free range chicken? Tons of empty calorie foods or a seemingly smaller amount of highly nourishing super foods.
2.Think Long Term
Eating well now could save you thousands and dollars in health care bills down the line and a whole lot of misery. If your already ill, its never to late to start taking care of yourself. People have reversed conditions like diabetes, inflammation and even cancer just by diet alone. Drugs are expensive and we all know the pharmaceutical industry is corrupt. How about giving our dollars to farms instead of pharms.
I live in Canada, trust me, meat and potatoes do get old. The more you can preserve, freeze, ferment and dehydrate when your favourites are in season and affordable, the more money you will save. Setting aside funds during the winter months can help you afford to buy extra food during the summer to process for winter storage.
4.Cook in Big Batches
Why spend energy making a soup with two servings when you can spend almost the same amount of time making a soup with 10 servings. Making extra food is great for those days where you just don’t feel like cooking or when you don’t have the time. Just pull your soup out of the freezer et voila! Empowered Sustenance has a great guide on how to make 12 paleo friendly meals in 2 hours, check it out here.
5.Grow Your Own
Seriously, this is a given. Even if all you have is a balcony or windowsill, grow some herbs, a tomato plant, anything! You will see how easy yet miraculous tossing a seed into the ground really is. The more TLC you give the more you get back.
If you need help convincing yourself why you should eat non GMO and free range organic meat just take a look at a few studies and books on the topic.
Most areas have some sort of bulk distributor for organic nuts, dried fruits, oils etc.. Sometimes the order has to be over a certain amount, in this case creating or joining a buyers club where everyone goes in on one big order can save you loads. Some stores may even sell you a case of something or other large amount, at a discounted price. Around these parts organic butter is around 8-9$ per pound, if you buy it by the case it works out to 5$ per pound. It’s worth spending a big chunk of change at once, plus you don’t have to think about buying that item for awhile.
8.Invest in a Chest Freezer
By far the easiest, fastest method for preservation, freezing excess fruit in the summer, extra leftovers, bone broth and more can make life a lot easier down the line. There are so many used freezers out there in working condition, we may as well use them and save ourselves some dough by freezing fresh food when its in season.
9. Meal Planning
For a busy family or when your working full time, meal planning is hands down a great thing, it’s all to easy to feel uninspired and order takeout when you don’t know what to make. There are a lot of great meal planning resources. You could plan your own and get everything prepped and ready on a day off, or you could invest in pre planned, grocery list, diet specialized meal plans made by others. I’ve heard great things about the Holistic Squid real food meal plans, as well as paleo meal plans.
10.Join a CSA
Community Supported Agriculture is a system where you buy “stocks” in the crop of a local farm ahead of time and receive a weekly or bi-weekly box of whatever produce they grow. Many farms are flexible about payments and may even do a weekly or monthly payment plan. A great way to eat delicious local food, support our local economy, and often the margin is a lot less than a grocery store or market.
11.Shop Along The Perimeter
When you shop at the grocery store all the key elements to a healthy diet are along the perimeter. Fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, eggs- everything fresh is surrounding the aisles of junky processed food. Avoid the interior where the cheap temptations lie.
12.Use Less Expensive Cuts of Meat
Nose to tail, eat the whole animal, it’s a precious life given to sustain us. Traditional cultures have always consumed the whole animal. Heck I even heard a rumour Dairy Queen uses chicken beaks in their ice cream!
Pork- Hock, shank, trotters (feet), cheek and jowl are all inexpensive cuts and cooked long at lower temperature often come out better than the fanciest tenderloin.
Beef- Flank steak, oxtail, shank
Lamb-Shank, neck, should and breast
Talk to your local butcher about the cheapest cuts they’ve got and what delicious recipes they recommend.
13.Make Nourishing Bone Broth
While your talking to your butcher ask him/her if they could sell or give you a bunch of beef, pork, chicken, lamb or venison bones to make stock/broth with. Bone broth is highly nourishing and packed with minerals and natural gelatine. Plus it’s a delicious addition to whatever you’ve got cooking. It’s easy to make and freeze and so comforting you might just want to drink it instead of tea (like me :P)
Have a few friends who want to eat grass fed beef? Round em up and buy a whole cow together. Does one person have land great for growing potatoes and the other person carrots? Do a trade. Can you trade eggs for honey? Build a communal chicken coop? Help each other in the garden? Everything is so much easier when we put our heads together.
Learning about the edible plants in your environment is incredibly rewarding. If someday you aren’t able to get tomatoes from across the world, you’ll want to know which plants around you are edible. Wild plants also impart much higher nutrient values than many domesticated species and you are what you eat!
16.Eat Out Less
It’s nice to treat yourself to a good meal at a quality restaurant once in awhile. You can easily spend more on eating out than on groceries to make equally delicious meals. I promise, it’s not hard to make amazingly yummy food at home in a short amount of time. The benefits of knowing exactly what is going in to your food are priceless.
17. Host Potlucks
Getting together to share food is a tradition humans have withheld since the beginnings. Our social natures shine through when we come together around the table. Potlucks are a great way to get to know your community and connect.
18. Shop at the Farmers Market
Shake the hand that feeds you. Cut out the middle man and you instantly have a double whammy of awesomeness. No mark up, and you get to know the people who work so hard to grow your food. You can get great deals at the end of the day or when you buy in bulk.
19. Fish or Hunt
Learning to fish or hunt is an endeavour that will always serve you. If you live in an area where either of these are a possibility, seek the teachers and tools to harvest your own wild meet. Not only is it a lot healthier than even free range beef, it’s also a lot more affordable and you are learning a valuable skill.
20. Prioritize What to Eat Organic
The Environmental Working Group analyzed conventional vs organic fruits and vegetables and found the worst culprits for high doses of pesticides and also the lowest.
The highest pesticide containing foods– apples, strawberries, grapes, peaches, celery, hot peppers, kale and collard greens, potatoes, spinach, nectarines, tomatoes and snap peas.
The lowest pesticide containing fruits and vegetables-avocadoes, pineapple, cabbage,onion, asparagus, mango,papaya, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cantalope, cauliflower and sweet potato.
22. Share More
Give all that you can, when you can. There are always people less fortunate who need the blessings of full bellies.
23. Dollars are Votes
Every penny you spend is a vote as to how you want the world to be. We have the choice to support chemical industries or small family farms. We get to choose sweatshops or second hand. Made in China or DIY. Every dollar you spend is a vote to change the world.
What’s your favourite way to save money eating real food? Let me know in the comments below!