Eating healthy, clean food (organic and non-processed) does not have to cost a lot. Check out “100 Days of Real Food” for some great tips on eating healthy foods on a budget.
In our household, one of the main ways we save is by eating in. No more restaurants except on rare occasions – maybe once or twice a month. I prepare all our lunches, so we avoid those “undocumented” fast food runs at work. And now that I feel somewhat seasoned in the kitchen, throwing food together into a tasty meal is much easier than it used to be.
We no longer have those 5:30 pm moments of desperation – running out for burgers or Thai food because I’m too tired to cook anything.
This goes a significant distance in helping us afford organic produce, grass-fed beef and free-range chickens – all of which cost more than their non-organic counterparts, which my family refers to simply as “factory farmed.”
In addition, there are a number of items we no longer purchase. These used to fluff up the grocery bill quite substantially:
- Fruit juice (only rarely)
- Juice boxes and bottled waters
- Lunch meats
- Salad dressing
The first four items on this list used to be staples in our diet, so we bought a LOT. We have replaced these with… nothing. Cheese (I’m covering my head in case someone throws a ripe one at me) is basically an unnecessary food. Yes, I used to enjoy it too – but surprisingly, it was the easiest food to give up.
The juices and sodas can simply be replaced with water. We do sometimes splurge on organic apple cider or something equally clean and heavenly, but for the most part we avoid drinking our calories.
Milk we have replaced with rice milk and almond milk, and this has been pretty much a 1 to 1 swap. I use these alternatives in everything: coffee, recipes, you name it.
Lunch meat is another item I don’t really miss. While I sometimes buy organic lunch meats (like Applegate brand) without added nitrates, I generally don’t buy lunch meat anymore. When we have sandwiches, I use chicken or ham or another meat we had for dinner within the past day or two.
Crackers are easy to replace with raw veggies and fruits, which cost a whole lot less.
Salad dressing was one of the last items to go. I used to spend ridiculous amounts of time standing in front of the organic dressings at the store, searching for a blend that didn’t have any of my “no” ingredients. I have no idea why I waited so long to begin making it myself. It’s quite easy, as long as you have things on hand like mustard, honey, olive oil, lemon juice, and a few fresh herbs – throw a good mix of ingredients into the blender and pulse a few times, and the flavor can’t be beat by any pricey dressing off the shelf – and there are no added chemicals and preservatives. Great stuff!
So whatever your reason for making the shift toward healthier food, don’t lose sleep over the cost. Over time, the expenses from your “past eating life” will begin to fall away, as they are replaced by purchases that may be pricier, but bring lasting value and health to you and your family.