10 Ways to Eat Healthier on A Budget


Why is it so hard to eat healthy? What can I do to eat healthier? Why does it seem more expensive to eat healthy?

In general it is difficult to eat healthy in America because the deck is stacked against us. 
This is the key factor:

We have an abundance of high calorie, low nutrient food readily available and we are not awake to our eating and it is making us sick.

The big food industry is making a fortune by producing cheap and generally nutritionally deficient food.  I bought some sweet potatoes the other day, one of my favorite things to eat, and I swear it didn’t taste like anything.  It was disgusting.  I threw it in the trash and ate an entire tomato instead.  Advances in crop production and the use of pesticides and GMOs has made crops really cheap and easy to produce but have also reduced the taste and healthiness of vegetables. 

GMOs, genetically-modifed organisms, are present in about 90% of corn, soybeans, and cotton.  The chances are likely you have had some today.  Smarter people than you or I disagree about whether they are dangerous, but like credit card debt, contentious women, and bad parts of town, out of the precautionary principle I try to avoid them (and many other things) if I can.  GMOs do make crops resistance to disease and give us cheap food and cheap sugar and generally help feed a growing population.  In that sense that they have made starvation less likely world-wide so the jury is still out. 

Fast food is on every corner in America and has been proven to lead to more obesity.  I’m not saying it should be illegal and the last thing we need are more taxes.  Also, there is a reason it is popular: it is good, or the fat, salt, and sugar make it taste good anyway, and it is relatively cheap and easy.  Fast food is something you do not see in other countries, although when I was in Jordan recently, I noticed Popeye’s has arrived.  It will be interesting to see if we export our health problems like obesity and depression to other countries.  The best food I have ever had in my life out of 30 plus countries visited was street food in Mexico, and it tasted nothing like the Mexican food here.  That tells you something about how food has gone wrong here with cheap, tasteless pre-packaged junk dosed with salt, sugar, and food to make it taste good.  

In general to bring back taste and to eat healthier, we need a drastic change.  We need to slow down and make better choices.  We need to divide labor within the household and make the cooking process run smoother.  It’s cliché to say this, but when I was a kid we really did eat a home-cooked meal at 5:30 or 6 every evening.  My Mom spent hours canning vegetables out of the garden.  It is soothing when I think of the sound of that pressure cooker and the lid rattling on a summer afternoon.

The key concept to eating healthier on a budget is this:

There is a mental, physical, and spiritual struggle being waged for your life which includes the junk food you quickly cram in your mouth. 

You have to realize that your supposed “freedom” to eat and do whatever you want is usually nothing more than mind-manipulation by corporations who have designed high-tech marketing strategies to get you to hand over your wallet, waist line, and way of life to them.  I’m not saying they are evil (in all cases) or are doing this to purposely hurt you, but that’s just the truth.  They are in the money business, and can’t care one way or the other what happens to you.

Corporations can’t love you, so when it comes to food, they could care less what happens to you. It’s not that they don’t care about your health, it’s that they can’t.

2/3 of America is overweight, childhood obesity is growing, particularly among the poor, and 1/2 the country is using drugs for mental illness and a big reason for that is our overall approach to food and eating.  Food, families, and communities are an afterthought, not the very reason for our existence, so we have everything completely backwards.

It’s not a big deal if you drink the occasional coke or eat cake every now and then.  I certainly do.  What matters is the overall big picture.  How do we approach food? How do we think about food?  Who are we eating with? What does it mean that we have so much available, yet we are still sick and depressed as a Nation? 

These are tough questions.

Desperate times call for desperate measures……………

10 tips to Eat Healthier on Budget:

Buy food and cook it in bulk.
Buy more of something at one time to get a volume discount.
Cook in advance, like on Sunday afternoon, so you can have some pre-cooked food available during the week.
Some of the bigger stores offer big discounts on bulk purchases.

Eat Less in General.
This is easy.  If you can learn to eat less, you will save money.
Fasting, fiber, and drinking more water can help with this.

Eat Slower.
Take your time.  Slow down and enjoy the taste of what you are eating.  Eating should be the best part of the day.
Think about what you are eating when you eat.
Say a blessing or at least be thankful for what you have.

Look for and use coupons.
This is self – explanatory.  There are many good coupons online and in the newspaper and on smartphone apps.

Eat Less Meat.
Protein is usually the most expensive thing on the grocery list, so eat less meat.
Try to find a local cattle farmer to buy your beef from.  We bought from my grandpa growing up.
Raise your own eggs.  I know several people in Atlanta who do this.

Eat Out Less.
You can easily save several hundred dollars per month by cooking and eating at home.

Eat More Fiber and Drink More Water.
Fibrous fruits like apples, grapes, and melons as well as fibrous vegetables make you feel full and are low on calories.
Water will make you feel full with zero calories and cost.

Fasting teaches you to go without, builds self-discipline, saves money, shrinks your stomach, and helps you to appreciate what you have.  Shoot for skipping one meal 3 times per week.  That is about $15-30.

Eat more rice, whole grains, and beans
Plant proteins are cheaper, healthier, and have more fiber than meat.

Shop at Farmer’s Markets
Shopping at no-frills farmers markets makes it easier to eat in-season foods.  This is better for the environment and helps the local economy. *try to avoid the farmer’s markets where the yuppies drinking $8 Starbucks lattes congregate as these tend to be more expensive.
Bonus: Be a creature of habit and eat the same thing for certain meals on a regular basis.

  • If you know you are going to eat the same thing for breakfast, for example, it takes the guesswork out of it, and makes it less likely that you will go out to eat on the way to work.

The things I want to improve at are: 1) eating out less and 2) cooking more vegetarian salads with high-fiber and high-protein beans in them. 

What about you? What are you going to work on? How can you eat healthier and save money at the same time?

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Let’s do this.
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