I hear it all the time. It’s the number 1 reason why people have a hard time making changes to their diet. “I can’t afford it.”
Well, when we watch some of the health and wellness influencers out there, it’s no wonder people can feel that way. Expensive supplements, organic food delivery services, high end grocery hauls, it can all feel very daunting to someone starting their health journey. Health and wellness influence does come with a level of affluence, so it’s also important to remember to enjoy the expensive feeds, but then to find ones that resonate with your lifestyle and your budget. The thing to remember is that even though there are very expensive ways to be healthy, there are equally as affordable ways to do so.
The foundation to a healthy lifestyle, is food. Filling your fridge and pantry with whole foods is the first place to start, but also can feel like the hardest. Here are 7 easy ways to get started, without breaking the bank
- Choose produce that is in season. When you choose produce that is in season, it’s more abundant, so the prices drop. If you’re looking for tropical fruits in the dead of winter, you’re more likely to pay a higher premium because of how their getting to the grocery store. The further they travel, the more expensive they get!
If you’re not sure which produce belongs to which season, here are is a list to guide you. Fall and winter are definitely the tougher months to get fresh produce, but there are other ways to get your veggies, which I’ll go through below
- Asparagus, Radishes, Spinach, Rhubarb, Kale, Salad Greens, Arugula, Beets, Lettuce, Green Onions, Gooseberries, Saskatoon Berries, Strawberries, Broccoli, Celery, Swiss Chard, Garlic (Fresh), Peas, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips, Zucchini, Fennel, Cherries
- Raspberries, Currants, Cherries, Blackberries, Apricots, Apples, Crab Apples, Blueberries, Gooseberries, Melons, Nectarines, Pears, Plums, Prunes, Strawberries, Artichokes, Green Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Swiss Chard, Corn, Cucumber, Garlic (Fresh), Leeks, Lettuce, Green Onions, Parsnips, Peppers, Potatoes (New), Radishes, Rhubarb, Rutabagas, Salad Greens, Shallots, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips, Zucchini, Beets, Eggplants, Grapes, Peaches, Watermelon, Kale, Pears
- Pears, Brussels Sprouts, Rutabagas / Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Pears
2. Hit up the dried goods aisles. Lentils, chickpeas, black beans, the list of dried goods goes on. These are packed with nutrients and are relatively inexpensive. They also last for years in the pantry, so when they go on sale, stock up!
3. Frozen veggies are the next best thing to fresh. Frozen veggies tend to be processed at their peak ripeness, which is the time when they are the most nutrient packed. They are then flash frozen, packaged, and send to your local grocery store. Frozen veggies are a good option in the fall and winter when fresh produce can be harder to come by as well. Beware through, frozen veggies can have a bit of a weird texture when cooked, so try to stick to frozen, peas, corn and carrots when you can. Frozen broccoli and cauliflower are the next best bet. A good tip is to add them to a soup or stew, as opposed to eating them on their own, even though full disclosure, I happen to really enjoy a good frozen vegetable medley!
4. Canned is OK, but be careful when making your selection. When choosing canned, check your ingredients closely. Canned goods are often loaded up with salt during the canning process, so you may inadvertently be adding sodium you weren’t aware of to your meal. Some of the better canned items are canned beans or canned corn (organic when possible). I would personally steer clear of some of the other canned veggies as they really tend to lose their integrity, and can be pretty mushy.
5. Meats. This is one category that can trip people up, because the good quality meats are more expensive. This is one area I would recommend not trying to cut as many corners. You’re better off buying a few high quality (antibiotic free is a big thing to look for on packaging, free-range is also a keep work to look for) than buying a large quantity of cheap, mass produced meat. I tend to go for the higher quality items that I can stretch further- for example a whole chicken tends to be more affordable than the sum of it’s parts. You can roast the chicken, and then use the bones to make a soup or a bone broth. One ingredient, two very healthy meals made.
6. Pre-made sauces and dressings can have a ton of hidden sodium and sugar in them. Stock your pantry with olive oil, vinegar and dried spices, so that you can quickly make your own. Store bought sauces and dressings can also be surprisingly expensive, whereby the sum of their parts last for months, and are typically pretty affordable. The 1 ingredient that is worth spending money on however is good quality oil. This may cost you a bit more, but it’s worth it in the long run to avoid buying processed oils like canola or vegetable.
7. One of my best pieces of advice is to choose an ingredient that can be used in several ways. It’s always exciting to have a shopping cart filled with a huge variety of fresh foods, but it can also lead to waste if you’re not sure what to do with everything once you get home. You can buy 3-5 key items, and then mix it up throughout the week. 1 bunch of kale for example can be the base to a salad, sauteed with garlic as a side dish, or blending into a smoothie to start your day. 1 ingredient, 3 ways. This also allows you to keep your grocery bill down without feeling limited on your meal choices once you get home.
Here are a few more fresh items that are usually more affordable, and can be used multiple ways: Kale, Spinach, Carrots, Sweet Potato, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Beets, Apples, Bananas, Bell Peppers, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Zucchini
The important thing to know here, you’ll get the hang of it! All it takes, is getting started! Plan out your grocery trips. Make a list, then make your menu, then get going! There are plenty of resources available out there to help too. You can also download and print my meal planner and grocery list template to help you out! Just click below to download