Recent posts on various blogs have got me thinking. For years I have heard people comment that they would like to eat healthy but it’s just too expensive. Is that true? Is it really to expensive to eat healthy?
When I was in my 20’s I had three children and a husband. I was a stay at home mom and my husband had a blue collar job making around 26,000 a year. It was tight…very tight but we ate well. There were never any Doritos’s or ding dongs in our house but we didn’t miss them. I grew vegetables in a small garden on the side of our house. I planned menus around our meager budget. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen but it was something I enjoyed. It was also something my family enjoyed. My boys would help me plant the garden, or stir the oats into the cookie mixtures. My husband learned how to bake bread…even after we divorced I still miss the weekly smell of homemade cinnamon rolls permeating our home. Why spend a dollar on a box of tasteless macaroni and powdered cheese when I could get boil a bag of inexpensive elbow pasta and creamy cheddar and make a delicious pasta dish that I could sneak veggies into and have enough to feed an army?
I’ve seen a tip that to save money and still get protein you should eat more beans. I agree, but if I was forced to eat canned beans to supplement my diet I don’t think I can get on board. But buy a bag of dried red beans (usually under a dollar) soak them over night and then let them simmer all day long with a ham hock (also super cheap) and some spices. Serve it with a big chunk of sweet cornbread and you won’t feel like your giving up a thing.
I will admit that eating healthy can take a lot of time planning and cooking. I became a single parent of three boys with a full-time job, spending all day cooking was not feasible anymore. I came across the philosophy of Once a month cooking At first it seemed daunting, but I started spending on a couple of Sunday’s a month cooking and freezing. I couldn’t believe how much stress it relieved for the rest of the month…and cooking in bulk was so much cheaper. I didn’t have a separate freezer so I did it every two weeks, packaging most of my items in freezer bags to save space.
I will admit buying organic can be more expensive but I have my reservations about the entire phenomena as evidence in this article from Business week The Organic Myth. but then again I grow my own whenever I can. And we are lucky enough to live in the middle of a fantastic agricultural area. Take advantage of your farmers markets and roadside stands. Join one of our local co-ops! And for the record whole foods do not have to come from Whole Foods.
I learned to cook from scratch, the way my grandparents did. This can work for any diet, carnavoire, vegetarian, low fat, high carbs, glutten-free, microbiotic, etc. You give up the alleged “convenience” but you gain so much more.
Next time you go the grocery store, take stock of how many items in your cart are packaged for convience that you could in reality make yourself. Don’t waste your money on individual packets of oatmeal, buy the large canister. You control the sugar and salt. You can stir in delishous fresh fruit or nuts. Nothing is simpler. It can even be microwaved. I’m not saying you have to give up ALL convenience foods to save money. (Personally, I don’t enjoy making pasta but whole wheat healthy pastas are now available in generic brands at most supermarkets.) I am suggesting that you be aware of what your buying, a few simple changes can make a big change in your grocery bill and can help you have a healthier diet. I think giving up a little conveniece is worth it.