6 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget (with a side of kale chips)

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Whole Foods - Fruits and Veggies "It costs too much to eat healthy!"

I hear that a lot. And sometimes I feel that way too.

In some ways, it's true. There sure aren't many coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables :-).

Well, after reading my posts on Top 5 Steps to a Healthier Diet and Top 5 Reasons to Eat Healthy, I hope that you're motivated to make at least a change or two to your diet.

But whether you are motivated or not, it can be hard knowing how to be healthy and save money.

Over the years, our family has moved gradually towards a whole foods diet - and we've always done it on a single income (and the single income is not six figures either - not even close:-).)

It hasn't always been easy, but I'm going to share some of the tips that have helped our family make healthy changes - within the constraints of a limited budget.

1. Add beans to stretch a meal. While I don't personally recommend a vegetarian diet, eating healthy animal protein can get pretty pricey. Beans can do a lot to stretch your healthy food dollars. Check out my recipe for Fast and Yummy Bean Dip or Indian Lentils and for sure see my tips on How to De-Gas Beans.  Your stomach will thank you!

2. Buy in bulk. Almost always, you can save a ton on whole foods by purchasing in bulk. We have a small co-op out of our home through Country Life Natural Foods and there are similar co ops across the country. For ideas on how to store foods purchased in bulk, read Frugal Food Pantry and How to Store Nuts and Seeds.

3. Make your own snack foods. This is one area of the family budget that can benefit the most from a trim. Instead of super-pricey chips and bars, how about some:

- Homemade Protein Bars - Super Homemade Popcorn Topping (We take this popcorn everywhere and always get asked for the recipe!) - Kale Chips (You won't believe how good these are! - and wait 'til you see how much they cost in the store!)

4. Eat in season and store up for the future. During gardening season, we had a huge influx of tomatoes and kale. It got pretty tedious processing it all, but we enjoyed a lot of great Garden Fresh Salsa numerous nights in a row and laid up a lot of food for the future. For some garden-surplus inspiration, see:

- The Easiest Way to Preserve Tomatoes - Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes

5. Prioritize your purchases. As I said in my post on Top 5 Steps to a Healthier Diet, buying organic is important, but few people can afford to buy organic everything. Check out the Environmental Working Group's produce guide that lists the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen" (lists of the most and least pesticide-contaminated produce) to help you choose where to spend your healthy food dollars.

There really are many more options, but I hope this gets you started thinking about a few small steps that you can take to make eating a more healthy, whole foods oriented diet a reality.

You can do it! I hope to share more ideas in the future and go more in depth on each of these points either here or on  Whole New Mom.

Do you have a favorite way you stretch your healthy eating dollars or a "tough" area of your food budget that needs help?

If you know someone struggling to eat healthy on a budget, please share this post with them :-)!

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