Healthy living is hard even if you have a million dollars in a Swiss bank account. Cheese and bagels are just too good. I know, I get it.
There’s this idea society tries to make us believe that eating healthy is impossible unless you have a ton of money… -_- bitch, please. Farmers have been eating healthy forever and they’re usually hella poor. Nope, I’m here today to bust this myth for you so you can see with your own eyes that yes, you too can eat healthy and you can’t let this manipulative hypnotizing society give you an excuse to blame this on the rich, too (well, you can.. but you should stop).
This is literally the most annoying topic I have ever discussed in my life.
I am too poor to eat healthy.
I call bullshit. Straight up, you are full of crap. If you go out to eat, ever, you are “rich” enough to afford to eat healthy. If you can afford to buy frozen dinners, you are wasting your damn money and you can definitely afford to eat healthy. You need to start taking responsibility for your poor eating habits, sir and/or ma’am.
Here’s an example: an amazing non-profit group I work with sometimes called ‘Food Not Bombs‘ provides free vegan meals for anyone about once a week from excess food that restaurants and grocery stores were going to throw out anyway. Do you know what most of these meals are made out of? Fruits and vegetables. This brings me to my first point:
Produce is the cheapest thing you can buy.
What is the healthiest thing you can buy? Fruits and good ol’ veggies. As it turns out, fruits and vegetables are also the very cheapest thing you can find at any grocery store. If you’re buying 18 dragonfruits to try to prove your point, you’re wasting your time.
A single banana is less than a dollar. Actually, it’s likely less than 50 cents. You can spend 10 cents more on organic bananas, but you don’t have to. You’re saving money either way. Try bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower. These items will run for a couple dollars at the most. Yeah, they go bad, but you have to eat them, duh.
Learn how to cook.
Cooking is how you’re going to get the best bang for your buck. Stop buying pre-packaged meals… holy Jesus. These are not only usually filled with nasty preservatives, extra sugar, and who knows what, but they use up a bunch of plastic and from my experience, they are not very filling. You will get triple the amount of food for a third of the price or less for one of those nasty boxes in the frozen section. That’s right. I called them nasty. They are literally so gross, you guys. What are you doing?
If you’re afraid of cooking, google how to do it online. I remember when I cooked my first meal in my first ever apartment. It was spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread that I made myself on the side. That’s not healthy and I don’t eat any of that (minus meatballs) anymore, but the joy of cooking is unmatched. I have some crazy recipes, but you can find simple recipes online or watch cooking videos on YouTube, like Alex French Guy Cooking (although many of his recipes aren’t very healthy – just a warning.
Spend more money on bulk items.
If you calculate how much you use each item, you will realize you are saving more money. I want you to spend money on higher priced items in the fat/oil and spice/herb department. What the heck are you talking about? Herbs and olive oil aren’t that expensive.
What I mean is, buy the highest quality herbs, spices, and oils you can find. Spend money on that coconut oil because it’s healthier than butter. Spend money on organic paprika, because genetically modified, not organic ground paprika is likely even worse for you than a banana that isn’t organic. That little bit of extra money (literally pennies sometimes) will go a longer way. These products last longer and do more for you because they will be a part of every meal.
Don’t buy meat that isn’t organic or don’t buy any meat at all.
Yup. Yup. I know. I know what you’re thinking: God, fuck, Michelle, meat is already so expensive and now I have to buy the most expensive meats?
Yes, you do. Non-organic meat is so much worse than plain-ol’ hormone-ridden, antibiotic-laced, weird carcinogen-containing meat products in the United States. If you’re buying meat that is antibiotic- and hormone-free, but not completely organic, this is a start and you’re doing better and I’m proud of you. However, you’re still not getting as many nutrients as you would with meat that is totally organic.
Think of food as a container.
Depending on what you’re getting, some foods have different qualities than others. Your meat could be organic, but let’s say that cow lives right next to a car dealership (this is very unlikely). The toxins that enter your meat (or produce) will also enter you… Doesn’t that make sense? You are literally putting it inside of you and your body breaks it down per nutrient. Hopefully, you don’t want to eat a bunch of toxins. When you’re eating meat that isn’t organic, you are eating the most amount of un-regulated toxins that you could possibly be eating. In addition, your fecal matter is adding those toxins that your body didn’t break down to the water…. which in turn pollutes it, harming fish, humans, etc.
There are other options for meat and produce. You could find an organic product that isn’t local. Anything that isn’t locally grown or raised costs more money because you have to think about fuel and packaging requirements. Also, the food isn’t as fresh. Man, I’m going off on a tangent here. Never mind.
Buy from different stores.
Depending on your car and where you live, you’ll likely not spend much extra money on gas finding the best deals at different grocery stores. Many of them are right next to each other. I usually keep a mental note of where everything is cheapest and plan my shopping trips around that. If you live near a Wegmans, literally just get everything there, you lucky animal. They have the best prices and quality for healthy food you’ve ever seen and they usually have everything.
Here’s my breakdown:
Produce and meat: Farmer’s markets, farm stand, and any local grocery store
Coconut oil, flours, and spreads: Ocean State Job Lot, Christmas Tree Shops or wherever is cheapest for you.
Hot food bar: Whole Foods or some co-op/health food stores
Packaged items and snacks: Christmas Tree Shops, Target, or Ocean State Job Lot
Packaged items, snacks, cheese, and cheap wine: Trader Joe’s
Spices, herbs, and specialty items (or anything I can’t find anywhere else): My local co-op or fancy health food store
Basically, I’ll go to specialty grocery stores or farmer’s markets for produce first (Asian markets, etc), then try my local grocery story (Hannaford’s, Wegmans, Kroger, Vons, etc), then Trader Joe’s, etc, moving up to purchasing at the most expensive place last if I can’t find what I’m looking for.
Speaking of Co-ops…
Maybe don’t join one, but many have a cull section. They throw food that has dropped on the floor, gone a bit bad, passed the expiration date, etc and many foods are still good, but they cant legally sell them. Check out the cull section at your local co-op and take some food away for free or super duper cheap.
Some of the links in this post are affiliated links and The Barefoot Aya may receive a percentage of the item purchased. This does not mean that any company supports The Barefoot Aya nor does it mean that I do not fully recommend these products. I would never link to a product unless I fully recommend it.