Eat Right for Your Body and Your Bank Account

by Loni Markman, MA, CHHC

Are you one of the many people who are under the impression that eating healthy means spending more money? As a nutrition and positive body coach, I hear it all the time. “Eating whole foods is too expensive” or “I want to feed my family better food but I need to stay within my budget.” I’ve even heard “organic foods are a rip off.”

Wherever you stand on this topic, I am here to tell you that it is possible.  You can feed yourself and/or your family mostly organic, whole foods without emptying your wallet.  Eating healthy is the fastest way to better health. Can I get a whoohoo!

Check out these simple solutions for healthy shopping and wallet-watching:

1.     Go with homemade.  Americans spend about half of their food budget on eating out at restaurants. And NYC’ers even more so. Even just reducing your meals out by 1 or 2 times a week can save you about $15 – $25 per week. This is an easy way to save money and even have some extra to spend on higher-quality foods. Cooking at home saves you money and helps you know what is in the food and that it’s made with love.  By cooking at home, you create an environment where you can manage your weight yourself instead of leaving it up to that new Thai restaurant that just opened up around the corner.

2.     Switch to Water. Aside from obvious health reasons, buying beverages is expensive. Whether it’s coffee, soda, or vitamin water… they add up (quickly).. If plain water doesn’t sound appealing then try infusing it. Chop up some cucumber and lemon and let it infuse overnight in your Britta. The next morning, you will have a delicious and refreshing new way to get your 8 glasses of water in.

3.     Cut the junk. Evaluate how much money you are spending on items such as soda, cookies, crackers, prepackaged meals, processed foods, etc… By limiting or completely cutting out these unhealthy foods, both your wallet and your body will benefit.

4.     Always have a plan. The more prepared you are when you get to the store the less impulse purchases you will make.  Stores are sneaky and will tempt you into buying items you don’t need so be sure to write down your meals for the week and buy only the items that are on the ingredients lists.

5.     Shop the perimeter of the store first. This is one of my favorite tips.  Grocery stores keep the healthy stuff on the outside of the store so if you shop the perimeter you will fill your cart with healthy whole foods like fresh produce and meat, leaving less room for the “junk food fillers” and once again saving you money.

6.     Cook large portions. It saves time to cook once and eat multiple times. One idea is to make a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week or whenever you go food shopping. When you don’t feel like cooking, help yourself to a hearty bowlful and a green salad. This makes a nutritious but inexpensive lunch or dinner anytime.

7.     Eat before shopping. Grocery stores know the power of using all of our senses. Notice how some of them pop the best smelling popcorn or let you sample some treats? Never go food shopping hungry. You’ll end up grabbing some chips while you shop and spending almost double on food for that week.

8.     Go on a health food tour. Signing up for a health food tour is a great way to ensure you will know exactly what should be in your cart. I run a monthly tour at Fairway in Brooklyn and teach people how to buy organic, which produce is best for each season, how to buy in bulk, why using spices is a healthy and inexpensive way to make tasty food and much, much more. If this is something you are interested in email me for my next tour date.

Healthy food is a fundamental building block for a healthy life. For many of us, it takes some extra work and the building of new habits. But it turns out you can do the right thing for your body… and for your bank account.


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