Today we’re talking about healthy eating on a budget. It’s Friday, and it’s time to tackle some more reader questions. I have two related questions today. I’m definitely going to need some reader help with these questions today, as I’m still learning to eat healthy on a budget.
Without further ado, let’s get to the questions!
First, Jennifer asks,
I really want my family to eat as much organic food as possible and as little processed, enriched, preservative-laden foods as possible. However, when you are on a tight budget, organic sense goes out the window. Any ideas, suggestions, or tips on how to eat to the best of our health while shopping to the best of our wallet?
And then Jan asks,
With the prices raising….it is hard to eat a “heart healthy” diet. Expensive! Do you or your readers have any suggestions for those of us who must eat healthy….because of high cholesterol and/or the need to watch sugar intake???
Thanks, Lynnae! BTW the Amish Oatmeal that your son loves sounds good. It was that recipe that prompted my question.
I’ve been really struggling with eating healthy on a budget lately. June was the first month I bought all organic fruits and vegetables, and it definitely impacted my budget. This is what I’ve learned from my readers so far. And I’m sure you’ll find even more great advice in the comments.
First, if you’re making the commitment to eating healthy, you’re going to pay more. But if you’re going to allow yourself a splurge in your budget, healthy food is a good place to splurge a little.
Second, when it comes to organic foods, local is better than organic. Fresh, locally grown produce is better than organic produce from Chile. Plus, if you buy at the farmer’s market, you can ask the grower about pesticide use. Sometimes a farmer hasn’t taken the steps to become certified organic, but doesn’t use pesticides.
If you hit the farmer’s market late in the day, you might even be able to get a good deal on produce, though the selection won’t be as good. Some farmers will lower their prices at the end of the day, so they don’t have to bring extra produce home.
Consider signing up for a CSA. It will expose you to new fruits and veggies, you’ll support your local growers, and it’s generally a good deal for organic produce.
And if you can’t afford to go completely organic, know which foods are important to buy organic, and which don’t matter as much.
My biggest tip for healthy eating and eating a heart healthy diet is to cook from scratch. As a general rule, making things from scratch is less expensive and healthier than eating processed foods.
I like cooking from scratch, because I can choose what goes into my food, and I can make substitutions where needed. For instance, in the Amish Baked Oatmeal recipe, I tried to cut the sugar in half and replace all the oil with applesauce. It didn’t turn out too well, but I think if I add half the oil back in, it will work better.
If you have a recipe that calls for an egg, use two egg whites instead to lower cholesterol. I’m not very good with substitutions yet, but as I learn, I’m hoping to get better. And if you can do it, adapting recipes is a good way to make sure your food meets your needs.
Also, base your meals on beans, rather than meats. Meats are expensive, and red meat is not good for cholesterol. Beans are cheap, tasty, and very good for you. We’ve eaten a largely bean based diet this month. I thought it would get old, but I’m really enjoying the variety of things you can do with beans. It helps that I love Mexican food.
That’s about the extent of my knowledge on this subject, so I’ll turn it over to the readers. I know some of you are much more adept than I am at healthy eating on a budget, so let’s hear your best advice! What do you do to make sure you have a healthy diet without breaking the bank?