Many people think that eating healthy is out of their budget.
And, quite frankly, who can argue that when there are one-dollar menu items on
most fast food menus? One thing we must
consider about fast food bargain items is that the restaurant is still making a
profit, even at that rock bottom price. It makes you wonder what is the true
nutritional value and quality of that meat?
I think it’s safe to say that in most cases, there is very little nutritional
value in super cheap meal deals.
So, what is a consumer on a budget to do? Let’s explore some options that are easy on the wallet.
- Shop local. When you shop local, prices are generally
lower because it’s less expensive for the food manufacturer or grower for
packaging and shipping. As an example, Artisan
cheese at the local farmers market is much cheaper than a cheese imported from
France. If you don’t have a farmer’s
market near you, many grocers display a “Locally Made” or “Locally Sourced” sign
on products throughout the store. Another benefit of shopping local is that the
produce is at its peak freshness.
- Buy in season. When you buy produce that is in season,
often times it’s more nutritious, and your costs are often lower since that
produce may be sourced locally. Less fuel and packing materials translate into
savings for the consumer.
- Shop frequently. This may surprise you, but if you
shop for what you need for the next three days of meals, you are less likely to
overspend. Planning a whole week’s worth of meals can not only be daunting, but
there’s a tendency to overspend. A three-day shopping trip is a focused journey
to the store.
- Cook your own meals. One of the biggest cost savings
for meals is to simply cook at home. Many states do not tax fresh food in
grocery stores, but tax is applied to cooked food whether it’s in a restaurant
or ready-to-eat food purchased at the deli in the supermarket. Additionally,
when we eat out at a restaurant, we need to consider the tip, which adds an additional
15-20% to the cost.
- Grow your own vegetables. Depending on how much yard or patio space we have, we can easily grow our own vegetables. Cherry tomatoes are super easy and can even be grown in a pot on a balcony. They will taste so much better than store bought. Sprouts and microgreens can be grown indoors and make for a great topping on salads and sandwiches, and they are much cheaper than store bought. Take a look at the amount of space that can be dedicated to growing, and visit the local plant nursery. They always have great advice on how to maximize space for the vegetables you and your family love to eat!