I often hear from people who have not transitioned to a healthy diet yet that it is just too expensive to eat healthy.  While I won’t argue that eating healthy can be expensive, I will also say that assuming it cannot be done on a budget is nonsense.  Most people have never really put forth the effort to try it and are making the assumption usually based on the prices of healthy food versus unhealthy food.   Pair this with most people’s resistance to make changes to their routines and it should not be surprising how many people will use cost as an excuse.  Let’s face it, change is hard and some people are just not willing to take the time to learn something new.  With obesity and diabetes rates in the US on a constant rise along with the age of early-onset showing up earlier in our youth, it’s about time we stop using this as an excuse and put forth more of an effort.

I definitely cannot argue that a convenient processed meal may be cheap but I do challenge you to think about what it is going to cost you in the long term?  Do you think you are better off saving a few bucks on a meal now or saving thousands of dollars in medical bills later in life?  Your health is the most precious gift of all, and as cliché as it sounds, it is undeniably true that we are only given one body to live in.  As hardy as our bodies can be they are definitely not immune to years and years of mistreatment.  Ask yourself why you wouldn’t be willing to spend a few more dollars now to feed your body high-quality nutritious foods.  Think about it, you are investing in your single most important possession, your health!  So how do we go about doing it without breaking the bank?

There is no one easy way to eat a nutrient dense, plant based and whole food diet on a budget.  These foods are almost always going to cost more than the cheap processed junk so you must become a better consumer.  To make the most of your grocery budget here’s my top 10 recommendations:

1. Shop your local farmer’s markets where you can get some great deals and even find some new finds that you can experiment with. 

2. Take a few minutes to check the weekly grocery store ads and plan your purchases accordingly. 

3. Check out wholesale markets.  They carry many varieties of organic vegetables, fruit, and animal proteins. 

4. If you do not believe that you can use all of something before it spoils, freeze it.

5. Buddy up with someone, buy things in bulk, and split the cost.

6. Do not overlook the frozen fruits and vegetables. You can get some great deals, especially on frozen berries. 

7. Familiarize yourself with the dirty dozen list so you can prioritize which produce you should purchase organic varieties of and which ones you can save on. 

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Visit ewg.org for their annual updated list.

8. When it comes to fruits and vegetables don’t forget to consider the season.  If you are in search of a produce item that is not in season you will be paying a much higher price so plan your meals accordingly.

9. When it comes to nuts, seeds, grains, and beans I recommend that you buy them in bulk.  Of course it may seem like you are spending a lot of money at first but the price per serving will be a much better value and you will be saving significantly in the long run.

10. Set aside the time to meal plan and then make your shopping list based on those plans.  This will help reduce the chances of you buying items that are not on your list and splurging on items that you do not need.

I know it is easy to just say eating healthy is too expensive but if you do make an honest effort to prioritize sticking to whole foods while also taking the time to do the planning, it can be done.  Be an educated consumer and make your food choices based on nutrient-dense foods and take into account the long-term consequences of saving a few dollars on cheap processed foods.  Those few dollars could be better spent investing in your long-term health.

 

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