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Spend a Little, Get a Lot!

AA049755As a holistic nutritionist who espouses the benefits of eating quality whole foods, I often hear concerns about the cost of eating healthy. The argument is that organic, local whole foods just cost too darn much.

Well, I’m here to tell you that luckily, that is not entirely true.

Yes, grassfed organic beef does cost more than its cornfed, CAFO-raised (confined-animal-feeding-operation) antibiotic pumped counterpart. Despite this, I still promote eating the former over the latter, because to be perfectly honest (and at risk of repeating something you’ve heard over and over again) the former is a much healthier choice. At the same time, I completely recognize that many people (myself included, by the way) are on a budget and cannot afford to triple their food costs.

How do we reconcile this?

Here are my tricks of the trade for keeping food costs manageable while still maintaining a diet full of high quality food:

Portion Size

Sometimes it really does take a change of habit. In America, we have become very used to large portion sizes. Especially in foods like meat. If you want to eat high quality meat, then one of the ways to keep costs in check is to downsize your meat portion. This may seem challenging, but most countries in the world do not consume the rather comically large portions of meat that are often served in America. All it takes is a little getting used to and soon your palm-sized steak will look appropriate.

And this doesn’t mean that you will go hungry. If you downsize your meat a bit, you get to:

Up The Veggies And Fiber

Vegetables are quite affordable in comparison to meats. Buying vegetables and fruits in season will also greatly reduce their costs and frozen can always be a cost-saving way to go as well. Two of the cheapest, yet healthiest foods, are dried beans and whole grains. Bags of these are super cheap. Filling up on fibrous goodness will keep you satiated and your digestive tract running smoothly, all while on a budget. Along these same lines:

Eat A Few Meatless Meals

I’m not suggesting that you have to go vegetarian to eat well on a budget, but you can save money by swapping out a few meals a week for meatless ones. Again, substituting beans for the protein is an extremely cost efficient way to have a healthy meatless meal.

Buy Full-Fat Versions

This belongs under the portion-size discussion as well, because they are related. The fat-fearful age of the 1980’s has long-since been proven to be an incredible misstep that spiked obesity and diabetes in this country and it really needs to go away now. When food companies removed the fat from their foods, they replaced it with sugar. Bad idea. Instead of buying sugar-filled fat-free versions that will only spike your blood sugar leaving you craving more food and sugar, buy the full-fat versions. They cost the same and are better for you. Yes, the full-fat versions contain more calories, which is why I referenced portion size earlier. Your portion size should be slightly smaller when you are eating full-fat foods. The good news is that you should feel satiated on this smaller size, without any post-meal sugar cravings because fat will slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.

To be fair, our minds do play a part, so there may be a learning curve involved as we get used to being satisfied on food that appears to be less to our eyes, but play along and you will reap the benefits. Also, try to buy in season and shop at local farmer’s markets. You can often save a lot of money this way. Foods shipped a great distance have to cover the cost of fuel in their price tag.

I hope these tips help you and your family feel as though you have options for reducing your food costs while still eating quality food!

Written by: Katie Dawn Habib, Holistic Nutrition Coach

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About the Author

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, thehungrygypsy.com, a lifestyle, food, health and travel blog. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversation. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

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