There are a lot of things that come to mind when someone says “health food”. For some – they think of dense, bland, unappealing food. So people imagine fat-free, sugar-free, low calorie food. Other people think organic, unprocessed and whole grain. But most people will think of one thing when you say “health food” or “health food store” and that is – expensive.
The truth of the matter is that health food can get a bit pricey – particularly if it’s organic. Because of the higher quality ingredients the manufacturers have to make the price what it is in order to stay in business. But the mistake most people make is to assume that since they can’t “afford” health food and products they should go back to their fast food and ramen noodles with a sigh and hope that someday they’ll be rich enough to be able to afford a healthier lifestyle.
But just because you’re on a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to give up healthy eating. As a matter of fact if you play your cards right you can spend less and eat better than if you live off fast food.
Being in collage means I’m on a VERY tight budget. Unfortunately in my family there was no such thing as a college fund, and for now studying full time leaves no time for even a part time job (assuming there were one available). I am currently applying for a grant that will enable me to study, but right now I’m living off some pretty sparse savings. So I’m no stranger to needing to count your pennies and watch where money is going. But I like to think that in spite of all this I’m doing pretty ok in the healthy eating department and here are a few things that have helped me to accomplish this.
Letting go of the “all or nothing at all” mentality. When I read other healthy living blogs and see the authors buying only organic vegetables, or free-range eggs I’m tempted to compare myself with them and feel that since I’m not able to do these things, I might as well not even try. But if you think about it, that is a very counterproductive way to look at things. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do – focus on what you CAN do. I buy most of my veggies at a farmers market because they are actually cheaper there, and if I have a choice I will go for what locally available. But sometimes that’s not possible, and it’s ok to buy produce from the supermarket once in a while – the important part is that you eat your veggies.
Lunch: Whole wheat bread with egg and brocolli (the egg wasn’t organic – gasp!!)
Settle for the simple stuff – healthy eating doesn’t have to mean chia seeds, coconut flour and sunflower seed milk. If you don’t have those things available – don’t despair. Most of the same nutrients are found in other foods, or a combination of them. Here what is readily available and cheap are whole grains – barley, millet, oats, buckwheat – you name it, it’s cheap. That along with beans are pretty much a staple for me, and I don’t mind at all.
If you can’t buy it – make your own. Where I live nut butters are virtually non-existent, and the ones that are available are packed with sugar and hydrogenated fats – no thank you. Hummus and other vegetarian staples are also nowhere to be found. So what do I do – make my own. It’s amazing how simple some of these things are to make, and it’s always MUCH cheaper then anything store-bought. Better yet, you get to experiment and tailor make things according to your personal tastes and preferences.
When shopping, buy things in bulk. Single servings and small packages are convenient, but bigger usually = cheeper. Also the canned or frozen foods are always more expensive then when they have to be prepared from scratch. You may need sacrifice a bit of time and effort figuring out how and when to cook these foods (particularly if you’re on a tight schedule) but it’s always doable.
Look for marked down prices or products close to their expiry date – particularly if you know you’ll be eating these foods soon. I always buy banana’s that are marked down – usually because I know they will be gone within a day or two with me, while with others they might last a week or so. Plus REALLY ripe is just how I like’m.
Don’t be afraid to settle for classics. Yes Kath’s lunches are amazing, but that doesn’t mean you Peanut butter and banana sandwich isn’t great as well. Healthy living is doing the best with what you’ve got and not worrying about the rest. Sure everything might not be “perfectly balanced” but who cares? In any case it’s a heck of a lot better than giving up and not trying at all.
I hope you found these things useful. And if you’re one of the lucky few that can buy 100% natural health products at an available price – feel free to make a donation (KIDDING!!!!!!!)
Do you buy any products in bulk?
What are you top “money saving” health tips?
Is there any food you think tastes better on it’s “last leg”?