Hi! How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was lovely and one of the highlights had to be this:
Lots of beautiful sunshine and lots of juice. A jug full of green juice makes me giddy. *sigh* It’s the little things…
Today’s post is focused on green eating in an affordable manner. Healthy eating has a terrible reputation for being expensive and therefore unsustainable to the average Joe. Food isn’t cheap, but I don’t think being healthy has to be pricey and the economics behind food prices and investments in our health and environment, need to be considered when buying food. Yes, coconut oil is more expensive than your over-processed vegetable oil, but so are the health risks you’re likely to encounter as a result of using it. Below are my guidelines for eating green on a budget:
1. Buy in Bulk– Healthy grains like quinoa, millet, and brown rice are more expensive than generic white rice, but when bought in bulk it becomes affordable and worthwhile to incorporate these ingredients into our diets. The same goes for things like coconut oil, flours, legumes and many fruits and vegetables. The key is to look at the unit price of most grocery items. There you will see the price in terms of weight for each packaged item and you can determine which is the cheapest over all. Perishables can be bought frozen and used later, and grains and legumes have a long shelf life.
2. Eat Seasonally– In season fruits and vegetables are better for you, the environment and your wallet. Because they are in season, they have not been imported from another part of the world and since they are in the middle of their own harvest, they are readily available and need to be sold.
3. Use discretion when buying organic- Yes, organic is much better, but no, it is not imperative that you buy EVERYTHING organic. Print out the Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen for 2013 sheet and use this to carefully pick and choose where you want to invest in organic produce.
4. Buy Local– Go to your local farmer’s market or order a farm box. Not only does this support your local farmers and cut back on emissions from transport, you’re buying the produce from the source and therefore there are no store markups and the food is usually organic.
5. Plan ahead– There is a slight art to green shopping on a budget, but 90% of that simply comes down to planning. Plan what you will eat during week, know what you need and know what you have in your cupboards so nothing goes to waste. This isn’t to say that everything must go according to your meal plan, life happens. But if a dinner invitation comes along and you know that you won’t be eating something, try freezing it or incorporating it into another meal.
6. Homemade is better– processed foods can add up and not have much return. While we often pay for the convenience of store bought goods, homemade is usually tastier, healthier and more affordable. One of my favorite examples is muesli. Store-bought “healthy” muesli can be very expensive and is often loaded with added sugars, preservatives and sometimes even… trans fats. I mean, really? If we’re going to go there, let’s just have the donuts please. While homemade requires the extra effort, it’s worth it. You are in complete control of what goes into the food and ultimately it will be more affordable and have a higher return on your health.
7. Eat less meat– I’m a believer that if you’re going to eat meat, then regard it as a luxury and not a staple. Meat is expensive and reducing it from your diet will aid your health and cut back on your costs. If you’re going to buy meat, then best you buy organic/free-range because that factory raised stuff is not only incredibly unethical, it’s very very bad for your body. I’m not here to preach or represent PETA, it’s just the truth and I’m pretty sure no one wants hormone-infused food in their bodies. Rather find a local butcher who can tell you exactly where the meat is coming from and how it is produced. Then, ask if you can buy in bulk and freeze to save some money.
Bottom line: Healthy and green eating are not always the cheapest options, but part of eating is nourishing our bodies to invest in our health and longevity. Spending a little extra on better quality ingredients, means you may not have medical bills coming out of your ears in the future. Furthermore, it invests in the environment and means you’re treading a little more lightly 🙂