Unfortunately, it seems as though the least expensive foods are the worst ones for you. It’s hard to take care of your body when you can only afford foods with dangerous and cheap chemical additives. There are, however, ways you can eat healthily without paying more money for food.
First, it’s important to know what additives to avoid. The very worst are:
high fructose corn syrup (prevents you from feeling “full” so you remain hungry and can overeat, also linked to diabetes)
hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils (sticks directly to arteries and causes heart disease and high cholesterol)
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
artificial colors and flavors (causes severe attention problems and violent tendencies in some children)
One of the best and easiest ways to tell if you are getting good food is to check for labels that say “organic” or “all-natural.” Don’t be fooled by anything that says “diet, low-fat, low-calorie, sugar-free,” or anything similar. Those are just gimmicks to sell the food to unwary buyers. Avoid anything marketed to dieters. The food will still be bad for you.
You can still eat healthily on a budget. Try some of these ways to save money and get more than what you pay for:
Buy fresh raw foods. Avoid buying processed foods which are very expensive. Instead, buy what raw ingredients you can and make meals from scratch. You can find the best rated recipes at allrecipes.com.
Shop the farmer’s market. Find your local farmer’s market and shop there. The food will be cheaper because it was locally grown and is in season. You can also haggle the price. Tip: go at the end of the day when sellers are desperate to offload the last of their produce for next to nothing.
Buy in season. Fruits and vegetables are more expensive in off-seasons when they have to be grown in greenhouses or trucked in from far away. The in-season fruit will be the least expensive, so don’t go to the store with something specific in mind. Get the cheapest thing. It will rotate from season to season. Bonus: buying local in-season foods is great for the environment and supports farmers in your area rather than another country.
Get it while it’s hot. Wait until something goes on sale or clearance and buy a lot. I wait until canned soup is on clearance for fifty cents a can and buy twenty for example, rather than buy one can for $3. Dry and canned goods will keep for a long time, so buy a lot when the price is right. Some grocery stores have a “seconds” vegetable bin with fruits and veggies that are a little old or wilted or slightly damaged. Sometimes they put fruit in there that is perfectly fine, but just needs to be cleared out to make room for the next shipment.
Buy the cheapest item – not the item that is on sale or the item that you have the coupon for. Most people see the sale tag and think that it is the best deal, but there is usually a much cheaper item available.
Stick with staples. That is, foods that can be eaten alone or mixed with lots of other things: bread, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, whole wheat flour, dry beans, milk, noodles, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, cheese, and rice, for example.
Cut out unnecessary foods such as sodas, juice, coffee, candy, bottled water, cookies, ice cream, potato chips, donuts, etc. Bake your own cookies and drink water instead of sugary flavored drinks. If it has to be filtered, buy a Brita pitcher or other type of filter and make your own.
If you are having a baby, breastfeed. Contact your local La Leche League for brestfeeding info and support. Donot formula feed. Formula is far more expensive than food to feed yourself and formula is very unhealthy and sometimes even dangerous for babies. When your baby is ready for solids, make your own. Do not buy into overpriced and unhealthy processed baby foods in a jar.
Grow a garden. It’s so easy, even if you live in an apartment. See my articles on growing an apartment garden below. You can also try growing herbs in pots on a windowsill. For small spaces, check out a book on square foot gardening from your local library.
Growing an Indoor Garden
How to Grow a Garden In Your Apartment