You may have heard of this, “Eating healthy is very expensive.” While it may sound true, it does not always have to be!
Based on our last blogpost on “Positive Food Language for a Healthy Relationship with Food”, positive food language reduces categorizing foods into good/bad or healthy/unhealthy and instead an “all foods fit” approach. By avoiding labeling, the focus shifts to the flavors of food or reason for food. Similarly, there could be reasons to why you may think healthy foods are expensive. Other than cost, many people perceive food as ‘healthy’ based on the health claims and labels on the packaging of various trendy food products. This is why people would often think otherwise of other food products that may be just as nutritious but are not marketed the same way.
Many food products are created and sold based on current food trends due to the rise in consumers’ interest in healthy eating. It’s no wonder you find various trendy food products with health and nutrition claims on their fabulous packaging. But they all come with a heavy price tag! Here’s the bright side. This does not necessarily mean that these products are healthier than the generic brands. There are tons of nutritious foods that very affordable.
As you may know, cost is the main barrier to eating healthily for the average person. The authors in this study concluded that healthier foods cost twice as much as unhealthier foods per serving on average. What if I told you that you can eating healthily within your normal budget range? Well, is it possible? The answer is yes!
Here are the top three ways that will help you eat healthy on a budget:
1. Buy non-perishables in bulk
A common recommendation for healthy eating is to shop within the perimeter of the grocery store to avoid heavily processed foods found down many of the aisles. However, if you only shop within the grocery perimeters, you are missing out on lots of nutritious foods! Whole grains, cereals and dry pasta, dried or canned beans and frozen fruits and veggies are examples of nutritious foods that stay fresh for a long time. Plus, they are much more affordable than fresh produce, which are normally seasonal and more expensive. The more you buy in a serving, the cheaper the cost per unit of the food you bought.
2. Buy seasonal produce by the bag
When you buy produce that are in season, they not only taste the freshest but they are also at their cheapest price and are high in value. In season, produce will also be higher in nutrients! Here’s a tip: choose to buy your favorite produce or staple ingredients by the bag. For example, a bag of onions should last you a whole week if you cook from home every day.
3. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables
Did you know that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious or if not more nutritious than their fresh counterparts? This is because of the flash freezing process helps them to retain their nutrients even better and prevent them from being lost. If you opt for more servings in a bag, you would be able to save more money too!
4. Buy conventional versus organic products
Organic products are significantly more expensive than conventional. The term “organic” may be used as a buzzword to increase sales and try convince you a product is healthy, but don’t let this fool you. There is not enough evidence to say that conventional fruits and veggies are harmful. So if the cost of buying organic items prevent you from purchasing produce, then definitely stick to conventional items.
While there are many ways to reduce your food costs to make healthy food affordable for you, there are other factors that impact the ability to eat healthy. One example is low socioeconomic background, in which fresh foods are limited. With that being said, there are alternative ways for those with lower income and access to fresh foods to eat healthy.
If you enjoyed reading this topic on healthy eating on a budget, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Tami Ross, RDN, LD, CDCES, MLDE, FADCES
Tami Ross is an nationally recognized registered dietitian, diabetes care and education specialist, author & spokesperson with over 25 years experience. She was named Diabetes Educator of the Year and served as the 2013 President of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Tami has co-authored 11 books, including the bestseller, What Do I Eat Now? now in its 3rd edition.