Many people believe or want to believe that healthy eating on a budget is impossible.
After all, fast food is convenient and affordable. Depending on what you purchase, buying lots of calories and fat can be very easy on the wallet.
I can buy lots of junk food for one or two dollars. Food and junk food are sold at a variety of price points, which helps people like me rationalize any food purchase. On a daily basis, spending that dollar at the drive through made so much sense when I was hungry.
But how was I going to avoid fast food? When I was a child, my family was always watching our budget. My mother would try the latest recipe from her woman’s magazine, using the section entitled “Feed Your Family of Ten for 49 Cents a Day”.
Her tuna and potato chip casserole was a family favorite, but her version of Hungarian liver goulash is still a discussion topic at family gatherings.
I can feed my family of five for under $15 at the local fast food store. But if I shop carefully, I can take that $15 and buy ingredients to prepare a healthier meal. Was I becoming my budget conscious mother in my quest to feed my family of five on $15 dollars for dinner?
Were the days of Hungarian liver goulash right around the corner?
Grocery Shopping Strategies
Eating partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or high fructose corn syrup is easy and cheap. I can walk into any grocery store or convenience market, and for one dollar I can have a snack cake or a bag of chips. One dollar buys a hamburger from the fast food restaurant. For that same dollar I can purchase one organic apple or one bell pepper.
Maybe I wouldn’t pay twenty dollars for a pound of fish, but would I pay five dollars for a small four ounce container of blueberries?
It is too easy to buy inexpensive food that does not deliver the right ingredients and nutritional contents. I found myself once again contemplating why we don’t eat candy bars for breakfast. Driven by a sense of responsibility to my young family, I had to find a way to eat “whole foods” without spending our “whole paycheck.”
Click here for a quick list of healthy cheap food.
To manage my healthy eating on a budget, I shop at a local specialty market called Trader Joe’s. They sell reasonably priced nuts, meats, and dairy products and now have over 280 stores nationwide. Click here to open a new window and locate a Trader Joe’s in your area. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, some regional stores are rising to meet consumer demand for the same types of products. Sometimes I can’t find healthy items that fit my budget at Trader Joe’s or at my local supermarket.
In that case, I shop for good food choices in larger quantities at Costco, which is a local bulk retailer. When I was single, I laughed at anyone who shopped at a bulk retailer and thought they needed six pounds of hamburger meat or eight jars of organic peanut butter at one time.
Then I had three kids. Now, lugging home 10 pound bags of frozen skinless chicken breasts makes perfect sense to me, especially when it costs less than $2.00 a pound.
But what else did I buy to keep the family finances intact? Try these easy strategies for healthy eating on a budget.
Strategies for Managing
Healthy Eating on a Budget
Cheap healthy food that the whole family will eat. Check out these 16 inexpensive, nutritious foods that can be found in any supermarket.
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