Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Can't Afford to Eat Healthy........

"I just can't afford to eat healthy!"

I hear this over and over--from friends, from family, from clients I work with. Everyone knows they need to eat well. Everyone knows they need to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet.  I am just a voice, an advocate, trying to encourage others to do so but I hear the same objection all the time.  Well....I am here to say, "Yes, you can!"

Here are some simple tips, ideas, and suggestions:

Take a look at your most recent grocery bill.
Where did you spend the majority of your money? Chances are, you spent it on pre-packaged, processed foods.  Rice-a-roni, boxes of mac and cheese, canned soups, frozen meals, boxes of cereal, and convenience food.  Yes, I know we are all busy.  I understand how easy it is to take a frozen solid pre-made lasagna, pop it in the oven for 45 minutes and call it dinner. We work, we go to school, we are all on different schedules, we are constantly on the run. Who has time to actually make a lasagna?  Think of it this way--for the money it costs to buy one frozen lasagna, you can make a big pan (maybe two) of delicious homemade lasagna and feed you family several times over.  So much more cost effective and so much better tasting! When you shop, try to avoid the pre-packaged stuff. This is where your money goes!

Shop local and in season
Scope out local farm stands and buy your fruits and vegetables there.  You are supporting your local farmer and getting the freshest, best and least expensive produce you can possibly find.  All fruits and vegetables need not be organic, either.  Here is list of produce that you should always buy organic and a list of safe, conventional fruits and vegetables. http://gourmetfood.about.com/od/slowfoodorganiclocal/a/organicproduce_2.htm
Buy produce that is in season.  Winter is almost upon us.  A peach is not a winter fruit.  You can buy them in any market any time of the year, but if you want them now, you are going to pay a high price for them.  Buy and cook what is in season and buy plenty. If apples are in season--bring home lots of them. Cut them up, toss them into lunch boxes, bake them, turn them into apple pies, applesauce, or cook them with your oatmeal.  Waste not, want not. Never throw away anything! Those bananas on your counter that are turning brown? Cut them up and turn them into banana bread or banana pancakes. 

Buy in bulk.....
Rather than buy a box of rice or a package of flour, I buy it in bulk.  My local health food store carries just about everything I need in big barrels.  I measure and fill my own bags of nuts, flour, TVP, rice, quinoa, coffee beans, granola! EVERYTHING! When you buy a box of rice, guess what you are paying for? The box! You will be suprised at how much money you will save when you shop this way!

Join a food co-op........
When I was married and raising my son, I belonged to a food co-op.  We were a group of health-conscious folks who placed an order once every few months for the food we wanted. This was a great way to save money and keep my pantry stocked full of necessary staples.  We would all gather together and decide what we needed.  Rather than buy just one pound of coffee, we all chipped in for ten pounds and divided it up among each family. We would buy 20 pounds of flour and take what we needed.  We would have big blocks of cheese delivered and slice it up into smaller pieces.  We had so much fun on co-op delivery day. It was such a great way to make friends and share recipes. The children played together as the adults sipped coffee or wine and chopped, divided and measured.  Interested? Here is website to find a local food co-op in your area: http://www.niany.com/food.coop.html.   You can even start your own with a few friends.

Keep Your Pantry Stocked........
If you always have what you need on hand, you will spend less money.  Always have flour, rolled oats, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and other non-perishable essentials in your pantry.  Boxes or cans of chicken and vegetable broth can be transformed into soups or added to pasta dishes for extra flavor.  Keep cans of beans on hand to be add to salads, and to make chili and even dip for veggies and chips. Cans of whole, chopped or diced tomatoes are good to keep for sauce for pasta and homemade pizza, to add to soups, or even to make salsa when fresh tomatoes are not in season.  Keep plenty of grains, noodles, and pasta in your cupboard as well. If you keep your pantry full, you will need to shop less often and will never run out of ideas.

Cook a big one.........
The last time I bought turkey breast at the deli counter, it was $9.00 a pound! That's insane! How can anyone afford to make lunches for their family? Buy a small turkey, put it the oven and forget about it for a few hours.  Yes, it is going to cost more than $9.00, however, you can get several meals out of a whole turkey! Slice up the left overs for lunches, and toss the bone, some carrots, onions, celery and water into a big pot, add some noodles and serve your family turkey soup for a week! Freeze it into smaller container and when ever you want soup, simply defrost, heat and serve! Do the same with a ham. Have Sunday dinner, and slice up the rest for sandwiches. Take the bone, add some split peas, water, some fresh veggies and VIOLA! Homemade split pea soup! Why would you buy pre-sliced cold cuts when you can get several meals out of a whole piece meat? Think of the money you will save!

YES....you can afford to eat healthy with a little planning, organization, and a small investment of your time.

And this is my Daily Cyn.............

1 comment:

  1. Buying bulk can definitely make you savings and it tastes all the better for knowing that you've not paid through the nose for it. I do buy rice at our local wholesale outlet but it doesn't last indefinitely, so I have to keep an eye on that. It's not necessarily a healthy thing either, as most of it fuels my partner's curry obsession....

    Also, learning to cook is fun and it's not as hard as people thing. So for whatever reason you're buying ready-meals, whether they're convenient or you just don't know where to start, do something about it. You'll have fun. :)