Do you think you need to be rich to eat healthily? Presume that you can’t eat plenty of fruits, veggies and other good stuff when you’re on a budget?
You’re not alone. You see earlier this week, I was reading through the comments on a popular health and wellness blog that I ghostwrite for when I came across one particular comment that stuck head-and-shoulders above the rest.
“I’m sick of reading posts like yours!” the writer screamed, “it’s all well and good telling people they should eat better, but I’ve got more important things on my mind such as keeping my kids fed and petrol in my car. Of course I’d indulge in all that unprocessed and organic stuff, but it’s just not realistic…”
Whilst I’d like to pretend that I was gobsmacked and my jaw dropped to the floor, that would be a lie. I’m all too familiar with the crazy excuses that people come up with so they can avoid committing to a healthier lifestyle.
Having a limited budget does not, under any circumstances, prevent you from eating a highest- quality, most nourishing diet that you possibly can.
It doesn’t guide your hand towards the cans of cola instead of the bottles of water. It doesn’t force you to choose a chocolate eclair over a banana. And it most definitely doesn’t make you opt for a burger instead of a stir fry.
Only you do that.
So this week I’d like to completely bust those myths about healthy eating and show you that you can eat well on a budget and still afford to pay for your Netflix subscription, or your kids swimming lessons, or whatever else drains your purse each week.
Here are six excellent reasons why you most definitely can eat wholesome, nourishing and healthy (vegetarian) food on a limited budget.
#1: Fresh Fruit & Veggies Aren’t Expensive
People often claim that they can’t afford fresh produce because it’s just too pricey, but this simply isn’t true. I defy you to create a meal with a bunch of veggies in your local supermarket and break the bank- it just can’t be done.
Of course, you might have to choose which veggies you go for- more exotic produce is going to cost more and organic stuff might be slightly out of your reach, but you really can do it if you get clever. It’s also worth keeping your eye out for special offers, or shopping at one of the low-cost supermarkets such as Lidl or Aldi where many a bargain can be had.
And when it comes to snacks, a bag of carrots is much more nutritious, satisfying and filling than a bag of crisps. Yes, really.
Don’t believe what you hear about processed food being cheaper than the healthier variety. Again, it’s not true!
Weight-for-weight, beautiful fresh fruit and veggies wins out every time. They’re absolutely packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and yes, even plenty of animal-friendly protein too.
Sure- you get more calories, fats and sugars (and additives and preservatives!) from a packet of bourbon biscuits than you do an apple or two. But do you really want your money to go on crap like that when you could be nourishing your body instead?
Eat natural, unprocessed foods. And if you really need a treat, create something awesome for yourself.
#3: Cooking From Scratch Is Easy!
If you want to eat healthy on a budget, then you only have to start cooking for yourself from scratch. Not only is it the cheaper option, it’s more nutritious, it can also be a lot of fun, it’s good for your soul, and you can also get the kids involved.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard people say that they can’t save money cook from scratch because it’s just too time-consuming or tricky or expensive. But if you care about your health and that of your family, you’ll find the time. Health is a non-negotiable for me, and it should be for you too.
My life is just as manic as anyone else’s (and as a nomadic, home schooling, working lone mum perhaps even more so) but I still find enough time to cook proper food and provide my son with the very best in nutrition.
This includes baking delicious wholegrain bread from scratch, making fresh live natural yoghurt and even creating mouth-watering raw vegan treats whenever the mood takes me and wherever in the world we might be.
When you’re working on a strict budget, you really start to notice the price of those added extras like coriander (cilantro), fresh chillies, tomatoes and spring onions. But there’s no need to sacrifice these healthy additions just because you don’t have the cash. You can grow your own wherever you live and produce those little additions that make the difference between a recipe being unforgettable and just ‘uuuhhhh…’
If you’re feeling really brave, you could also try your hand at sprouting seeds and beans. These tasty little plants are packed full of vitamin C and B-complex vitamins as well as neutralizing an anti-nutrient called phytic acid. I’m planning to dive into the world of sprouting in the next few weeks, so watch this space for a heads-up.
#5: Superfoods Are Optional
You’d be forgiven for thinking that you can only be healthy if you stock up on superfoods like Spirulina, Chlorella, Maca, Alfalfa Wheatgrass, Acai, Camu Camu, Chia, Goji Fruit, Reiishi to name just a few. And whilst they can certainly be a highly nutritious addition to your lifestyle, they’re not obligatory. You can still be supremely healthy without them.
In fact, rightly or wrongly, I rarely take these kinds of superfoods, and prefer to eat a more wholesome and natural diet in place of freeze-dried and processed (and expensive) superfood supplements.
Stick to healthy grub that makes you shine from the inside and you’ll be fine.
#6: You Don’t Need To Splash Out On The Fancy Stuff
Being healthy isn’t about using expensive ingredients that you’ll only use once. Nor do you need to create lavish and impressive recipes with balsamic vinegar and Himalayan rock salt in order to eat well.
We manage wonderfully with the essentials: ‘Basics’ mixed herbs, home-grown oregano and old-fashioned salt and pepper combined with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, beans and lentils and wholegrain bread, brown rice and the occasional curry when I can sneak one in past my pizza-loving son.
And we are still healthy!
So next time you proclaim that you just can’t eat healthily because it cost too much, take a step back and think again. Because if you stick to unprocessed ‘real’ foods, pile up the fresh fruits and veggies, grow your own where you can, forget about the superfoods and take the balsamic vinegar back out of your shopping trolley you can eat an awesome diet and still have leftover change.
Remember, the real costs of eating are hidden. Always put yourself on the right side of the equation.