Eat Healthy on a Budget

Louise Hay once heard someone ask, “Why feed a sick body expensive healthy food?”

This is not an uncommon question.

Healthy foods, just like healthy thoughts, have powerful healing properties.

Why would anyone deny themselves healthy food because it costs more than cheap, processed food? The first and most important thing to embrace is that you matter and are worth the investment of wholesome, healthy foods. The second thing to recognize is that there are several ways to eat healthy on a budget.

Reality CheckA few years ago, I wanted to invest in myself so I gave myself a reality check. I decided to look carefully at the things my husband and I were spending our money on. When I finally decided that I matter enough to heal, I realized that expenses like buying magazines, eating out at restaurants, and my monthly mobile plan could be reduced or eliminated. These were expenses that I didn’t really value as much as my health, so it was easy to minimize them.

It’s helpful to look at how you’re spending your money versus the priorities that are most important to you. Perhaps there are things you’re spending money on that don’t matter as much to you; that money can be moved into your food budget. This can be a very eye-opening exercise.

Ways to Save Money on Healthy, Organic Food

Shop at Your Local Farmer’s Market

Buy Directly from Organic Farms and Farmers

Many organic farms sell direct to customers or have Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs where you can buy family-sized portions of vegetables, animal protein (like meat, poultry, eggs, and raw butter), and sometimes even fresh-cut flowers.

Buy in Bulk Online or in Your Local Store

You can often get discounts when buying in bulk. Many health-food stores have 10 to 15 percent off cases, for example.

Get Together with Friends or Groups and Buy in Bulk

For example, a mom on a tight budget in San Diego began a Facebook group to reach out to people in her local area who wanted to buy healthy food at a discount. She contacted local and online sellers of organic foods and supplements and got wholesale prices, then started a shopping club. In this way, she and many other people in the community got to share in discounted prices. This is a great idea made much easier by social media.

If you don’t have a large group to join, small groups of friends can easily get together to buy grass-fed meat, herbs and spices, and vegetables.

Investigate Subscription Programs

Online stores like Amazon now have monthly subscription programs where you can buy at a lower price – often 10 to 15 percent less. So, you save money but with no commitment – it’s cancel at any time.

Learn to Garden – Even Indoors!

Louise has a thriving, beautiful garden, which is wonderful for growing organic, affordable food. Louise’s pictures of her giant kale received nearly 100,000 likes on her Facebook page!

If you have the space, gardening is a great way to connect with nature and eat well.

AeroGarden - a Garden without the dirtEven if you have limited space or no outdoor space at all, there are wonderful options for indoor gardening! My husband and I bought an AeroGarden and grew plants indoors all winter – hydroponically. Vermont winters can be long so took advantage of the space in the basement and had a thriving garden oasis the hydroponic way – that is, with organic liquid nutrients rather than soil.

We set up a closet in the basement and grew several types of lettuce, arugula, and basil so that we could have fresh vegetables all winter – without having to leave home and brave the slippery roads.

Joel and I were surprised at how quickly the lettuce grew! We were cutting off pieces for salads after only three weeks!

Hydroponics allows you to grow vegetables quickly in small areas. It’s really amazing! We ended up buying an additional AeroGarden (now they have LED lighting and use 60% less energy) and then getting creative (after much online reading) and creating additional planters using common 5-gallon buckets and the Deep Water Culture (DWC) hydroponic DIY system. You can make these in a few minutes and they last forever. There are many versions of this and fortunately a ton of ‘how to’ videos on YouTube. This sounds like it’s worthy of it’s own post so I’ll write a follow-up article on how we set up our hydroponic oasis 🙂

Buy Once and Regrow Your Produce

Certain vegetables can actually be regrown from the base that you often throw away! For instance, take the bottom (base) of a bunch of celery and place it, cut side facing up, in a bowl of warm water near a sunny window (change the water every two days). In about five to seven days, you will see yellow, then green, leaves sprouting. At this point, you can put the celery into a container with soil covering all but the small new leaves. Water generously and watch the new celery grow! Lettuce and bok choy can be regrown in much the same way.

Green onions are even easier: put the white bases in a jar of water, place in a sunny area, and watch as they regrow very quickly. Make sure to change the water every couple of days.

Stretch Your Food Like Your Ancestors Did

Our ancestors knew how to stretch food in ways most of us aren’t taught today. Bone and vegetables broth is an example of stretching food: After eating meat or poultry, you take the bones and make a healthy, nourishing broth. The same is true for the vegetable scraps you can use in broths. What was once considered trash can actually be used to nourish the body. This is a great money-saving technique!

Love Eating In

Eating a home saves a lot of money, even when you’re eating organically! Many restaurants serving non-organic food cost more than eating organic food at home. Have fun with home-meal preparation. There are many easy recipes here on this site as well as in our book.

Bag Your Lunch

If you count up the money spent on eating out during your workweek, even for seemingly affordable lunches, you can see how easily you could set aside that budget for healthy food. Bagging your lunch takes planning, but the more you make home-cooked meals, the more leftovers you have to pack for the next day!

Make Your Own Snacks and Treats

Snack food, bars, and desserts tend to be very pricey. It’s much easier than you think to make your own! Plus, you can make extra and put them in your freezer to save time.

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As a coach, writer and recovered former executive, I understand the challenges of creating a balanced, healthy lifestyle when over-scheduled. In my journey to radiant health, I created a whole health system of eating, exercise, renewal and recharging -- a roadmap toward health & vitality. I empower clients to create their own whole health systems, in their own unique ways. I have seen amazing results in working with my clients!