One of the biggest food myths is that eating healthy is expensive. While there will always be a new health craze with a high price tag, those inflated costs generally reflect the demand and the marketing, not necessarily the health benefits. My personal mantra is “EAT REAL FOOD”. When you stick to the basics, eat minimally processed, local foods, and eat a balanced diet, you will save money, lose weight and support your local economy without breaking the bank.
An incredible meal does not require unhealthy or expensive ingredients. The two most powerful ingredients to achieve strength, depth and balance of flavor are onions and garlic. These also happen to be some of the healthiest and cheapest ingredients in the store. Strong flavors come from spices, herbs and acidic ingredients such as vinegars or citrus. Deep flavors come from umami-rich ingredients such as garlic, onions, meats, shellfish, mushrooms and tomatoes.
By buying simple, real foods with few ingredients (that are all pronounceable!), you are doing your body and wallet an enormous favor. Marketers will always have a new “healthy” food or beverage, but don’t forget that diet soda was once thought to be a health food! Stick to your gut, and your gut will thank you.
Tips to eat healthy while saving money:
- Prepackaged bulk foods: Grocery stores often purchase prepackaged foods in bulk that are much cheaper than the brand name products. Because the store pays a bulk rate and cuts out the middleman, they are able to offer a much lower price without cutting the quality.
- Go local and seasonal: When you buy local, you are usually buying organic. Many times small farmers don’t have the money or time to go through the organic certification. Buying what’s in season where you live supports your economy, and nothing beats the flavor and health benefits of fresh vegetables. Many large companies aim to “just” pass organic inspections and inject food with many chemicals. Your local farmers don’t need chemicals to mass-produce. Local meat and produce, even without an organic label, is healthier and more worth your money than organic products from food giants.
- Don’t pay for packaging: Whenever possible, avoid paying for packaging. Fancy packaging means that your extra dollars will pay for plastic, paper or metal, and not better quality. Excess packaging also typically comes with more processing, which goes against the mantra of eat realfood!
- Shop store brand products: Quite often the top or bottom shelves house store brand products that mimic the popular products found at eye level. Generally these products are very similar but are less expensive due to minimal advertising and development costs.
By Guest Blogger, Eliza Loehr