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Real Nutrition on a Budget

August 1, 2011
By:  Maria
“Healthy food is so expensive”
I hear this from time to time and have to agree and disagree. I agree that some foods can be more costly than others, but you would be surprised how well you can eat even if you are trying to stretch that dollar.
I disagree with that general statement because I believe you will either pay for quality food and nutrition now or pay for it later when you are plagued with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, thyroid problems, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, acne, autoimmune disorders (shall I continue??) and spending money at frequent doctor visits and medical prescriptions.
Follow these tips to help you eat for better health while staying on a budget:
1. All-organic is NOT always necessary – I won’t tell you that choosing organic isn’t better for you when it comes to some foods – it is. What I’m telling you is that it’s not a necessary component to eating right. If you can do it, great, but don’t think all is lost if you purchase non-organic tomatoes.
2. Buy produce that is in season – Buying produce that is in season will not only taste better, but the cost is drastically reduced. Here is a list of produce by the month, so you know what fruits and vegetables to purchase when you are at the grocery store (take the list with you!). Along the same lines, purchase items that are on sale. I rarely purchase produce that are not on sale or in season due to the higher cost.
3. Find a co-op to share with family or friends – Here you will find not only the freshest produce, but it will end up costing less in the long run. If you split the cost with a family member or friend, you can still have a decent amount of produce for half the cost!
4. Make casseroles, soups, stews – These types of meals can have plenty of leftovers and are always easy on the wallet. Make plenty!
5. Buy in bulk – This is always smart with meat, since you can spend a pretty penny if you’re purchasing meat in small packages. If you look for bone-in meat that still needs prep, you will save some money as well. Buying whole chickens rather than the chicken breasts/thighs/drumsticks will be MUCH cheaper. Fruits and vegetables are also a bargain when purchased in bulk (or even frozen – yes, quality might be a step down, but we’re talking budget here)
6. Don’t overlook grass-fed beef – Many people think grass-fed beef is simply out of their budget. I have to agree that if you are purchasing grass-fed products each week at a grocery store, it will be PRICEY! However, if you can find a farmer/rancher and some friends that are willing to share the cost of either a whole cow or down to 1/4 of a cow, the price per pound is about the same as what you would pay for grain-fed at the grocery store (but the health benefits are beyond comparison!). There are several farmers in Utah that have quality, affordable grass-fed products (let me know if you are interested in more info)
7. Plan your meals for the week! – I cannot emphasize enough, how much this can save. Plan a menu for the week, make out a list and shop in one trip. The more organized you are, the better prepared you will be and the more you will stick to your budget.
8. Save bones and vegetable bits for homemade broth – Chicken, beef and pork bones can be frozen and saved to make stock. Pieces of veggies (leafy tops, skins) are also a great addition to flavor homemade stock. If you decide to contact a farmer/rancher for grass-fed beef, make sure to tell them you want the bones! These homemade broths have elicited the best flavors in my soups, stews and casseroles!
Follow those tips and you will soon realize that eating quality, nutrient-dense food does not have to mean breaking the bank.
Happy shopping!

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