Health Food Shopping & Budgeting

Updated: Nov 9, 2018

These two tasks almost contradict each other if not carefully planned out. How can we shop for the best possible healthy choices on a limited budget?

 

There is one complaint about healthy living that stands out above most other reasons why so many people shun the idea of completely switching to healthier choices. Mostly everything labeled "healthy" is extremely pricey. It's why the crowd numbers inside our average grocery stores far exceed those in the most popular health food stores.

Seemingly the most beneficial purchases are the highest in price: organic foods, certain vitamins/minerals, certain food supplements, quality oils that offer Omega 3 fatty acids in our diets, quality poultry/beef/seafood, authentic honey like other sensible sweeteners, even Alkaline water, and more. Just for a middle class family, the costly task of stocking up on the right products can add up and dominate most other monthly bills within a home.

So, where does this alarming reality leave lower-income families who are trying to achieve healthier lifestyles for their households? The practical answer: Simply focus only on what we can afford and stock up from there. So, consider the following common-sense approaches that we must take if, as individuals/families on limited budgets, we are going to pursue healthy choices more successfully:

1. Organic Products Offer Better Options, Not Only Options.

With an extremely tight budget to work with, I can't afford to pile up my refrigerator with all organic fruits and vegetables.

I'm stilling learning to not sweat what I cannot control. So, that would mean not denying my family healthy choices just because prices are too high for premium products. If I can't afford a desirable organic product on my shopping list, then I have to choose the next best way of providing my family with a similarity for the same health benefits. Here are those ways.

1... A homemade mixture of cold water and vinegar can suffice as a produce wash to clear pesticide residue on non-organic produce. Unless we invest in the produce washes that are sold primarily in the same aisles that stock our fruits and veggies, make a wash mixed with cold distilled water and vinegar.

For every 32 oz. of distilled water, add 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar into a large bowl. Rinse your produce thoroughly in cold, distilled water before placing it into the bowl of water-vinegar mixture. Let it set inside the bowl for approximately 30 minutes before draining out that mixture.

Re-rinse the produce in another stream of cold or warm, distilled water. Whether this method is 100% full proof is a question I honestly already ask myself about mostly everything I consume because I'm a meticulous WOTHAN (woman of the house and nurturer).

 

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2... Forget about the organic drinks because distilled water is better than every beverage. If you don't want to buy distilled water, that's okay. Use the filter at home. If you have no filter system at all (faucet, pitcher, or refrigerator), that's okay. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil for 5 minutes (optionally adding 1 or 2 pinches of baking soda to a full pot if you'd like).

This saves money on buying sodas and sugary beverages. For additional beverages and as a switch from water for a change, I had to acquire a taste years ago for certain teas that I lightly sweeten. But there was no adjustment like having to adjust to drinking mostly water. Why? Because growing up, I found that drinking water instead of sugary beverages with my meals was unheard of.

Water as a replacement for all beverages can fix a fraction of the grocery bill. From time to time, I add it to my grocery list. But I mainly rely on the filters at home.

 

3... Herbal teas are cost-effective when replacing those desired organic drinks. Did you realize that iced tea can be stretched to accommodate many people and, depending on how many people drink it, to last several days?

With my own taste tests, I've been able to favorably measure the volume of water I'm able to add to the tea while still keeping a good taste. This can make iced tea a number 2 economical beverage after water. Furthermore, adding herbal teas like Pau d'arco and Moringa to one of Celestial Seasons' naturally flavored fruit teas gives value to my iced tea that can rival organic beverages.

I personally make iced tea from a pretty hefty investment in herbal teas. But it pays off.

Beginning with a huge boiling pot of water and this type of tea bag mixture for my whole family: 2-4 natural raspberry tea bags, 2-4 Moringa tea bags, and 2-4 Pau d'arco tea bags. I let a small amount of 100% maple sugar (or raw sugar) and honey dissolve in the hot tea, stirring until I see them completely dissolved. (The raw sugar and maple sugars are costly. But maple sugar lasts in my household for months because of the moderate portions I use to make beverages.)

I add fresh lemon and water to taste for the tea.

A full pitcher of tea lasts about 3 days in my household of 6. But my stock of tea bags lasts a few months because our main beverage at home is good old fashion H2O, which is both economical and good for the body.

Sometimes my teenage boy will not drink much because he is not on board with cutting out that much sugar. That sometimes does leave me to compromise and make my teas a bit more sweet - well, sometimes significantly more sweet. That leaves me out of the number drinking sweet tea during those times. (More on this in below.)

4... Buy what makes sense. Now, with the latest determination to keep my family healthy and myself on track with my weight loss, I have to ask myself a common-sense question: "Do I prefer to buy the pricey organic cookies or the non-organic low-price sack of popcorn kernels to pop on the stove?" And you know, if I don't lightly salt my popcorn, I sometimes leave the salt off and just add a small mixture of butter* with extra virgin olive oil.

So, guess what. I pick up the non-organic snack instead of the organic snack in many cases like this comparison. (* Notice that I said butter. Read what Dr. Axe says about butter. I'm okay with buying it and using it in moderation, as it has not interfered with my weight loss plan.)

2. For Meals, "Stretch" The Meat To Accommodate Breakfast, Lunch, And Dinner While Adding Volume To The Veggies.

Planning is a key to both budgeting and healthy lifestyle.

Frequently meal-prepping breakfast, lunch, and dinner all under the same heat can reward me with more financial savings. Here's how in an example:

 

1... Bake the chicken.

 

2... About 20 minutes before the chicken is complete, add a mixture of riced cauliflower (* or pre-cooked frozen brown rice), as much chopped onion as desired, and chopped bell pepper to a desired amount into the chicken broth. Cover it all back up and let that mixture cook with the chicken in that flavorful broth.

 

3... Meanwhile, on the stovetop, cook a big pot of some greens (kale, collards, or mustards) mixed with a smoked turkey leg or wing and a lot of chopped onions in a flood of water seasoned as desired. This would be covered and simmering for about an hour and 15 minutes after an initial 5-10 minute boil.

 

4... Slice a cantaloupe into medium and small pieces.

 

Of course, this can all be prepared on a previous day or in a volume that offers leftovers.

 

Here's breakfast from all this preparation: Some of the chicken in shreds (residue of the cauliflower is okay) and some of the cantaloupe. To those 2 items, I can cook eggs and toast to make up my first full course meal of the day.

I've actually heard my own thoughts ask me, "If I can't add bacon to breakfast, then what meat will we have to eat with it?" Apart from the problems that health professionals warn about bacon among other common breakfast meats, I've come to the conclusion (which my kids sometimes still resist for their love of bacon) that eating baked or grilled chicken with breakfast is perfectly fine for me to provide. And the idea that this is acceptable is the weakest among all cost-effective reasons for serving delicious grilled/baked poultry or beef.

 

For lunch, here's what I've done: Some greens and small chunks of the turkey inside it. A little more shredded chicken can be added to some corn tortillas and freshly made pico de gallo in order to make some tacos. Add avocado for maximum benefits. Sometimes I find avocados on sale for 59 cents when they are super ripe.

 

Finally, for dinner, the only item to add would be dinner rolls for everybody at the dinner table who kicks and screams for them.

* Pre-cook brown rice and freeze it in a zip bag.

3. Throw Out The Sodas, All Juices Including The Ready-Made Fruit Juices, And Other Colored Beverages To Replace Them With Mostly Water And Sometimes With Iced Tea, Which Are Low-Cost Alternatives.

To save money on buying sodas and sugary beverages, I had to acquire a taste years ago for the teas that I buy. But there was no adjustment like having to adjust to drinking mostly water. Why? Because growing up, I found that drinking water instead of sugary beverages with my meals was unheard of.

Water as a replacement for all beverages can fix a fraction of the grocery bill. From time to time, I add it to my grocery list. But I mainly rely on the filters at home.

Did you realize that iced tea can be stretched to accommodate many people and, depending on how many people drink it, to last several days? With my own taste tests, I've been able to favorably measure the volume of water I'm able to add to the tea while still keeping a good taste. This can make iced tea a number 2 economical beverage after water.

I personally make iced tea from a pretty hefty investment in herbal teas. But it pays off.

Beginning with a huge boiling pot of water and this type of tea bag mixture for my whole family: 2-4 natural raspberry tea bags, 2-4 Moringa tea bags, and 2-4 Pau d'arco tea bags. I let a small amount of 100% maple sugar (or raw sugar) and honey dissolve in the hot tea, stirring until I see them completely dissolved. (The raw sugar and maple sugars are costly. But maple sugar lasts in my household for months because of the moderate portions I use to make beverages.)

I add fresh lemon and water to taste for the tea.

A full pitcher of tea lasts about 3 days in my household of 6. But my stock of tea bags lasts a few months because our main beverage at home is good old fashion H2O, which is both economical and good for the body.

Sometimes my teenage boy will not drink much because he is not on board with cutting out that much sugar. That sometimes does leave me to compromise and make my teas a bit more sweet - well, sometimes significantly more sweet. That leaves me out of the number drinking sweet tea during those times.

4. The Bargains Do Exist At Health Food Markets, In Health Food Departments, Throughout Trader Joe's And On Amazon For Numerous Select Supplements/Vitamins/Minerals/Teas. Don't let the high cost of health food and - the hype of those must-have premium products - be the determining factor on whether you will pursue a healthier lifestyle. Are more expensive products better? Yes, as I've learned. But should you consider the way by which many old folk ate their way to healthy old age with common vegetables as too inferior to what health gurus praise? Absolutely no. Apply logic when you consider your choices. And take authority over what goes into your body with thorough research.