For many people, cost is a major obstacle to healthy eating. However, a recent study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that the cost difference was smaller than you might expect. Researchers found that eating the most healthy diet (fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts) only averaged $1.50 a day more than the least healthy diet (processed foods, meats and refined grains). So, it is possible to enjoy nutrient-dense foods on a tight budget!
Here are some low-cost superfoods:
- Bone broth
- Cage-free organic eggs
- Fermented vegetables
- Less, but higher quality protein
- Home-grown vegetables, especially sprouts
And Vani Hari, founder of FoodBabe.com, has complied a list of helpful tips for eating organic on a budget:
- Find and use your favorite organic companies coupons. Check their websites and social media pages, as well as various organic coupon sites.
- Budget and stay organized. Plan out meals for the week according to foods that are on sale or that you have coupons for.
- Make your own kale chips, smoothies and vegetable juices, rather than purchasing expensive store-bought ones.
- Prioritize. Meat and dairy are the most important to buy organic, because of the combined risk of pesticide, antibiotic, and cancer-causing growth hormone exposure.
- Portion. Eat smaller portions of higher quality meats, keeping it to 4 ounces or less.
- Frozen organic produce is the next-best thing to fresh and is almost always cheaper.
- Freeze all leftovers, using inexpensive glass mason jars or silicone ice molds (for smaller portions).
- Buy local produce when in season and freeze to save for out of season.
- Double recipes and freeze leftovers. This works great with soups and stews.
- Buy a whole organic chicken for less per pound, vs. just the breast, legs or wings, which are more expensive per pound. You can use the carcass to make your own bone broth.
- Use the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen” lists available on ewg.org to help you navigate which products to buy organic. For example, if you have a choice between more expensive organic red peppers and less expensive conventional asparagus, choose the asparagus. Asparagus naturally repels pests, allowing it to be grown with minimal pesticides. Include red pepper in your diet when it is in season or you can find it cheaper at another grocery store.
- Do not buy pre-washed and ready to eat fruits and veggies, as they can cost twice as much.
- Eat out less. Eating organic at home is significantly less expensive than eating at organic restaurants.
- Buy in bulk.
- Buy online. Various services will deliver organic and non-GMO food directly to your doorstep, and many with some of the lowest prices available.
- Buy local. Find farmers near you through LocalHarvest.org to get to know your local farmers, create a personal relationship and negotiate prices. And be sure to ask your farmer about his farming practices. Some farmers do not spray pesticides on their crops but do not seek USDA certification, in order to keep prices lower.
- Be the last person to leave the farmer’s market. Sometimes the vendors will cut prices so they do not have to take their produce back to the farm.
- Buy a share in a community-supported agriculture CSA program. It’s nice to contribute to a local farm’s operating expenses while getting a weekly box of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Grow your own food. Organic herbs are one of the most overpriced items at the grocery store, and many are very easy to grow. Once you start growing produce, you can give herbs, fruits and vegetables to friends and family, saving money on gift items, too.
- If you’re really adventurous, get a couple of chickens and hatch your own eggs!
- Compost all food waste to put nutrients back in your garden.
- Try these ideas to help your food last longer:
- Keep raw nuts and flours in the refrigerator.
- Wrap refrigerated produce in paper towels.
- Put bay leaves in containers of rice, flour and pasta.
- Keep bananas separated from each other. They spoil slower.
- Use vegetable pulp from juicing to add fiber to soups, smoothies or to make crackers or bread.
- Place limp celery, baby carrots and radishes in water with a slice of potato to make them crunchy again.
- Keep citrus fruits in the fridge. They will last 1-2 weeks longer.
- Don’t wash dark leafy greens or berries until you are ready to eat them.
- Store cut herbs, onions and asparagus upright in a large glass container with an inch of water.
Next time, we’ll talk about my absolute favorite trick… using Essential Oils as a food preservative. So stay tuned. And be sure to contact us if you would like to order yours!