So many people struggle – especially in this economy – with eating healthy on a budget because their budget is fixed and very restricted. Often, people allow their food choices to suffer because they do not know the options they have to eat healthy on a tight budget. On the other hand, there are certainly those who have no desire to eat healthy and choose fast food even when healthy foods are available. Unfortunately, either of these choices has an extremely damaging effect on our health.
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The food that you put in your body can either heal you or kill you.”
Lauren Von Der Pool, Vegan Chef
Fault Lines : Fast food, Fat profits: Obesity in America
I recently ran across this documentary which describes some of the reasons behind the ever increasing obesity problem in America. It discussed the real constraints that economic hardship places on our food choices and what you can do about it. It is 23 minutes long and well worth the time to watch the whole video so I have included here:
Two out of every three Americans are overweight. And that number is expected to rise to three out of four by 2020. The United States is the world’s fattest developed nation with an obesity rate double that of many European countries. One in every three Americans is expected to have diabetes by 2050.”
At our current rate, I am sure that we will hit that number far sooner. As reported in this video, many people end up choosing to eat fast food, cheap processed food and junk food regularly simply because they believe that this is their only option for inexpensive food.
There are other choices. There are options for eating healthy on a budget. You may have to be more creative and it does take some planning. However, if you are seeking ways to eat healthy without destroying your budget or your health, you can do it. Here are eight things you can incorporate into your lifestyle today to begin eating healthy on a budget.
Eating Healthy on a Budget – Top 8
1. Shop at Farmer’s Markets
Farmer’s markets are fantastic places to get locally grown vegetables and other foods. Many times, you will find farmers and local food distributors offering organic produce as well. At farmer’s markets, you will find food that is locally grown, highly nutritious and very inexpensive. It is often far cheaper to purchase produce at a farmer’s market than at your local grocery store. The produce will be much fresher and healthier as well. You can find farmer’s markets in every major city, probably several that operate in different locations and on different days. If you don’t live is a major city, chances are that you have a local farmer who grows and sells food locally.
2. Eat More Green Salads as Meals
Now that you have all that great produce from the farmer’s market, you can assemble some amazing salads. You may be used to eating salads as only a side dish; however, salads make great, healthy, inexpensive main dishes as well. Some people are concerned that a vegetarian meal will be lacking in protein. However, this is a common misconception. All vegetables have protein. In fact, calorie for calorie, spinach is more protein rich than beef. While 100 calories of ground beef has 10 grams of protein, 100 calories of fresh baby spinach has 12 grams.
3. Drink Green Smoothies
Green smoothies are another great way to load up on nutrient dense foods that are inexpensive. A green smoothie with spinach and/or kale greens, some berries, ground flax seeds, avocado and a little almond milk is packed with nutrients that satisfy your body. All of these ingredients can be purchased inexpensively at your local farmer’s market.
4. Incorporate More Beans Into Your Meals
Beans are a great, healthy, whole food source of protein, as well as, nutrient rich foods. They can be purchased dry or canned and they are very inexpensive. So much variety is available with beans. You can simply add them to a salad to make it more filling and give it more texture. Additionally, you can make bean soup using a variety of beans, vegetable stock and/or water, and your choice of spices and seasoning. Making a hearty bean chili is another great way to incorporate beans. Adding allium-rich onions and garlic your bean soups and chilies give them added flavor, as well as, added cancer protection!
5. Snack on Vegetable Sticks
Carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, and squashes are all vegetables that can be purchased inexpensively at the farmer’s market or you local grocery store. Chop and slice them into bite size snacks ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator. When you are looking for a healthy snack for yourself or for you kids lunches they are easy to grab when they are already prepared. Here is short video to give you some great tips on how to get your kids to eat more veggies!
6. Buy Animal Foods Organic (or not at all)
It is important for our health to eat as much organic foods as possible; however, organic foods tend to be more expensive. It is more important to buy animal products organic than produce, however. The reason for buying produce organic is to avoid the toxins that are used as pesticides on the plants. This is a very real concern. However, one major reason that commercially raised animals are so unhealthy is that the animals consume non-organic, chemical laden grains and grass. The toxins that the animals consume build up in their meat and fat tissue. So, when you eat non-organic animal meat, you also consume a concentrated dose of those toxins as well, not to mention the antibiotics and hormones used in conventionally raised animals. So, animal products must be bought organic. If you cannot afford to buy them organic, then it is best to not buy them at all and stick with more healthy vegetarian choices.
7. Have Several Vegetarian Meals Each Week
Not only will this provide you with a boost of plant-based nutrition, it will definitely save your budget compared to meals that include meat. It is a win-win for your budget and your health. There are so many delicious, healthy vegetarian recipes that you can use to add variety. It doesn’t have to be just salad. For example, you can make Mexican bowls (Chipotle® style) using steamed rice (or better yet shredded, steamed cauliflower), black beans, peppers, onions, tomatoes and avocados. This is a delicious, highly nutritious, inexpensive dish that is also quick and easy to prepare.
8. Plan and Prepare Meals For The Week Ahead
If you take time on the weekend to plan which meals you will eat throughout the upcoming week, you will save time and money on trips to the grocery store. You can make one trip to the farmer’s market and grocery store and, since you planned ahead, you know exactly what you need to buy. You won’t waste money on unnecessary food items or on gas with extra trips to the store. Additionally, preparing meals or the necessary ingredients ahead of time will save you time during your busy week and make it easier for you to stick to your healthy, budget-friendly eating throughout the week.
There are certainly many other ways to incorporate healthy foods into your diet and lifestyle without breaking your budget. However, with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer rapidly increasing in our country, we must make better choices. We must choose to live a lifestyle of wellness even when faced with a restricted budget. It is possible. You can do it and your body and mind will thank you!