Hey Dean here.
Catherine is back again with some tips on eating healthy and saving money. I was fascinated by her point that not all foods have to be organic, but there certainly some that should be for maximum benefit.
On another note, here is a little confession. Depending on the week, I may buy nothing but conventionally grown produce. My motto is always in this order.
- whole foods first and always
- then organic, if possible
- if not then I go with the best conventional I can find.
In fact this past week has been almost all conventional. I don't sweat it. I do the best I can depending on a whole bunch of factors. What never changes is that I only buy whole foods. THAT NEVER CHANGES.
Conventional foods don't hurt me. It's the pre-packaged chemically laden foods that do. I work my ass off to make sure those never make it into my shopping cart. (Spoiler alert: They don't!)
OK here is my pal Catherine.
People often ask me, for strategies on how to make better choices so they can save some money, but also keep themselves on track more consistently.
Yes, everyone—including me—is looking at ways to cut out unnecessary expenses, and the grocery budget is definitely a target. There actually is a way to shop smart, save money, and still get healthy and organic foods, on a budget.
Yes, it does require changing your shopping habits and planning a bit before shopping.
But really, it is very worthwhile!
Next to a mortgage, food is probably your biggest monthly expense, but the food you eat is a huge investment in your family’s long-term health, and that, my friends, is like money in the bank.
Make every calorie worthwhile. In other words, if the food you are buying is not good for you, then don’t buy it. Empty calories come in some of the most expensive packages in the form of processed junk.
Do you usually get chips? Cookies? Crackers? Snack bars?
These things are EXPENSIVE and they really add up fast!
What about so-called ‘diet’ foods like artificially sweetened yogurt? Sodas? Prepackaged frozen convenience meals? Again, very EXPENSIVE.
So what do you currently spend on food?
Start by making a list of all those foods that you purchase that are full of sugar, artificial ingredients, bad fats and chemicals. Add up the costs, you will probably be surprised.
And don’t forget to add in how much you spend going out for fast food, and the fancy sugary, (bad) fat-filled coffee drinks? If you do the math, you will most likely find that you are spending a lot of money on foods that do nothing but add to your waistline.
Step One: Cross ‘non-foods’ off the list.
These foods are expensive and do nothing for you.
By far the most expensive foods you can buy are the processed, packaged foods (on the inner aisles of the grocery store) that are usually full of ingredients you don’t recognize: unhealthy chemicals, preservatives and more.
Step Two: Buy stuff that’s good for your body.
That way you are getting your money’s worth.
Instead of an expensive (but full of empty calories) bag of chips, get some (good for you) raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or other RAW nuts.
Nuts are full of good fat, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs and make you feel more full and satisfied than a handful of chips.
Stock up on organic apples, organic grapes, organic pears, or organic berries and enjoy some fruit along with a handful of nuts. Or slice up that delicious apple and dip it in natural peanut butter or nut butter. Raw cheese is also delicious next to a few pieces of fruit.
Try snacking on fresh cut-up veggies instead of high carb, useless pretzels or popcorn.
And, great desserts can be made from frozen fruit, a drizzle of real maple syrup, a sprinkle of nuts and a dash of cinnamon instead of pies and cakes. Or go for a few squares of dark chocolate if you need your chocolate fix.
REAL food. Good for you REAL food!
Step Three: Buy organic when it really matters.
And yes, it really matters. Some fruits and veggies are ok conventionally raised, and others should only be purchased organic. How do you know?
Enter the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list…
These are the fruits and veggies you should avoid UNLESS you can get them organic.
They are the ones with the most harmful chemicals and pesticides on them. This list is compiled every year by the Environmental Working Group.
This year’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ includes these fruits and vegetables:
Sweet bell peppers
Spinach, kale and collard greens
These veggies and fruits are ok purchased conventionally grown:
Besides the fact that you are avoiding pesticides and herbicides when you eat organically grown, you should know that organic fruits and vegetables have been scientifically proven to contain significantly higher levels of nutrients due to the soil they are grown in. So you are getting more ‘bang for your buck’ with organics!
Step Four: Buy Local when you can.
These foods are not only fresher, but you don’t have to pay to have them shipped across the country.
Look for food co-ops, farmers’ markets, and community-supported agriculture programs.
There are also some great chain healthy food stores like Trader Joe’s that offer lots of organic or natural foods at way lower prices than a regular grocery store. I also find these stores have a wider variety of choices as well.
Step Five: Make sure to have a game plan before you hit the store.
Have an idea of your menus for the week. Make a list and stick to it.
This way you are purchasing only what you will be using and avoiding those impulse purchases, but do watch for sale items and buy on sale when you can.
Buy in bulk if you use it frequently–it’s generally much less money and you save on all the packaging too. Try splitting bulk packages with friends or family.
Step Six: Spend a few extra minutes to cook from scratch when you can.
Cooking from scratch is often WAY cheaper than buying pre-made. And YOU know exactly what goes into each dish. It’s really not that hard to cook from scratch.
One way I like to save time, is to cook up a big batch of hamburger meat, or other ground meat, and freeze some of it for later use. That makes it quicker and easier to use when needed. You can quickly make up taco meat, spaghetti sauce, chili and many other quick, easy, and delicious dishes with pre-cooked meat.
Note: Organic, free-range, and grass fed meat is now starting to make an appearance at some big healthy food chains like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and even stores like Costco and other stores. While this meat is a little more expensive than conventional meat, it is far healthier and well worth the cost. This is the one place where you should splurge.
Remember, good nutrition is major investment in your health in the long run. A healthy diet means you will avoid being sick in the near future and avoid expensive health issues down the road. You ARE what you eat and the fuel is of utmost importance!
What's a tip or strategy you use to save money or make healthy choices?