How to Eat Real Food on a Budget
Have you given up on a healthier diet for you and your family because of the cost of whole, organic foods? I understand how you feel. I once believed that truly nutritious foods were out of my reach. When series of unfortunate events left my husband jobless and drained our savings, we had to tighten our budget. Lowering food costs was one of the sacrifices we made.
I immediately stopped buying organics and began to figure out how to use coupons to save a tremendous amount on groceries. Our once robust grocery budget was cut in half and yet our pantry, fridge and freezer were full.
However, I began to have health issues that made me realize that all of the inexpensive, but highly processed foods we were eating (read: almost any food you can purchase with a coupon) had to go. I knew that I needed to feed my family better foods. Whole foods. Real foods. I felt overwhelmed at first, because I knew how much organics cost.
I realized, though, that buying all organic, all the time was not the goal. The goal was a real food diet that provided my family with optimal nutrition. Certainly, this meant that organic was preferable, but USDA certified organic was not always the best choice!
My desire to feed my family the right foods was so strong, that I ignored my usual perfectionism about food and began to add one new, real food to our diet every couple of weeks and subtract one or two processed foods at the same time. Within months, our kitchen was devoid of boxes and bags of processed food and filled with amazing, fresh, real food.
If you’re like many folks, you wonder how you and your family will thrive on a real food diet with a limited budget. That’s a valid concern. The good news is that there are ways to enjoy whole foods on a tight budget.
Buy Produce In Season
Check out Field to Plate for a guide for your state. Produce is less expensive when it is in season. Stock up at a good price and freeze or ferment what you can’t eat right away. Find farmer’s markets in your area and you’ll get even better prices for fresh, local produce than you will find at a chain grocery store. If you can’t find a farmer’s markets, look into joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Check out these great resources:
Buy Organic Produce from the Dirty Dozen List
Learn which fruits and vegetables are truly worth buying organic and which are perfectly fine to eat non-organic. Hint: Don’t buy organic bananas or avocados. Save your money to buy organic foods that really matter.
Of course, studies have shown that organic fruits and vegetables tend to have a higher nutrient content, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t afford all organic, all the time just yet. You don’t have to be perfect to get started!
Make it Yourself
Grow it Yourself
This is a money-saving no-brainer, right? Start a vegetable garden and an herb garden. Grow your own berries. If you can’t grow your own, visit a local pick-your-own farm or join a CSA.
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Buy From Local Farmers
Create a Meal Plan
Grocery Shop Online
Eat Less Meat and More Veggies
This one is simple. Plan more vegetarian meals, but make sure to include healthy fats like butter, coconut oil and olive oil. Buying cheap margarine, vegetables oils and canola oil, however, is a bad idea. They are rancid, processed and super unhealthy.
Get your protein from dairy products (preferable raw) and plan only 2-3 meals with meat at the most. When you do eat meat, don’t serve each family member a whole piece of meat, but instead shred the meat or cut it into small pieces. Make the meat a side dish instead of the main dish.