Let’s face it. Walking down the “Natural Foods” aisle at the grocery store can be pretty intimidating. When you stop and look at the choices and the prices, it feels even harder to start eating healthy. But it should be simple.
Whether you’re looking to start eating healthy or have already started, I’m here to give you a few simple ways on how you can do so on a budget. Because to me, eating healthy can be accessible.
Buy local vegetables and fruits
Besides supporting your local farmer, buying local can help you save money. When you buy locally grown produce, they’ve been harvested when it’s ripe and ready for consumption. Vegetables and fruits that travel to get here are harvested before they ripen and lose their nutrients by the time arrive at the grocery store. Not to mention locally grown vegetables and fruits also tastes much better because they’ve got all their nutrients.
The BC Farmer’s Association provides a great resource for finding out which vegetables and fruits are in season. Currently, in-season vegetables and fruits include apples, pears, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, leeks and squashes.
Tip: When you buy local vegetables and fruits, wash them and freeze them. That way, you will always have fresh vegetables and fruits on hand.
Bonus Tip #2: Consider purchasing a community supported agriculture (CSA) harvest box. This supports the local farmers and gives you a share of their harvest weekly.
Buy local meat and eggs
On that note, you can also buy local meat and eggs.
When buying BC meat including chicken, beef and pork, they adhere to certain regulations. Did you know, the use of steroids and hormones for chickens have been banned in Canada since the 1960s? Organic chickens are fed a vegetable-based feed, are free-range, and raised without antibiotics. Most local farmers don’t raise their pigs and cows with antibiotics or steroids.
An additional benefit of buying produce and meat locally is the open conversation you can have with your farmer. Take the time to know your farmer and ask how the animals have been raised.
Newman’s Fine Foods carries an amazing selection of local meat products.
Tip: When buying meat from a local farm, find out if you can purchase a share of the pig or cow. This will save you some money and allow you to try different cuts of meat.
Meal plan and prep
Ever walk into a grocery store when you’re hungry? You almost always end up buying way more than you need. Spend some time to plan your meals before heading to the grocery store. This way, you’ll have a list to focus on before even stepping foot in the store.
If you have kids, get them to help you plan for meals by asking them what they want to eat. This way, you’ll make sure the groceries get eaten. If it’s a “non-healthy” meal, there’s always a healthier version out there. This is what I really enjoy making my own meals at home.
If you spend a few hours at the beginning of the week (doesn’t have to be Sunday) to prep your meals, you’ll ensure you are getting a healthy meal. This doesn’t have to be a full week’s prep. Even a few days out of the week is a great start.
Tip: Don’t like soggy roasted vegetables? Prep your veggies when you first get them by cutting them up and putting them in a container. This way, they’ll be ready to be roasted by the time you get home from a long day of work.
Tip #2: Need help meal planning? I offer meal planning only services if you’re not looking for a full nutritional consultation.
Make your own and use leftovers
Making your own food can help save a ton of money. Often, items we buy like yogurt, nut milk, sauerkraut, pickles and jams are simple enough that it can be made on our own.
For example, nut milk is often filled with other ingredients such as locust bean gum, gellan gum, ascorbic acid, and sunflower lecithin. When you make your own nut milk, it can purely be nuts and water. To get started, you will need a nut milk bag and a good blender.
After making your nut milk, you can use the pulp to make crackers or use it as flour in your baking.
If you’re having chicken for the week, consider buying a whole chicken. You can roast the chicken and use the meat in several ways. After, you can use the bones and make a healthy bone broth with it.
Grow your own food
It might not be the season to start growing vegetables right now in the Lower Mainland. However, when January and February come, Westcoast Seeds is an amazing resource for finding out what you can grow in the size and type of garden space you have.
You can also sprout 12 months of the year! Try a variety of certified organic seeds at Westcoast Seeds including fenugreek, red radish, green lentils, red clover, and more. Sprouting is simple and can be a fun fail-proof experiment no matter how old you are. To start, all you need is a wide mouth jar, sprouting lid and some seeds.
Have you tried microgreens? You can grow microgreens in your kitchen all year round as well. All you need is a shallow tray, potting soil, seeds and light.
The beauty of both microgreens and sprouts is their nutrient-dense nature. They’re miniature greens, herbs and vegetables and are packed of beneficial enzymes. They also sprout and grow within 1-2 weeks.
Eating healthy can be simple and budget-friendly. It takes a little planning but I hope that these tips will help you get started in the right direction.
Need a hand in healthy meal-planning? Contact me for more details!