One of the biggest budget-busters and all out wastefulness of resources (financial and environmental) is the grocery store. Man, it is easy to do some damage! When discussing the best way to eat for optimal health, I often hear echoes of “I don’t have access to fresh organic food” or “I don’t know what to buy” or my favorite “it’s too expensive.”
Let’s work on busting these excuses! I totally get it, not everyone has a Costco at their fingertips, or even a grocery store with reasonably priced organic fruits and vegetables. Some may only have access to a poorly stocked Walmart. And while I avoid buying anything but paper products and pool toys at Walmart, for some it is the only place that sells food. I learned through my MSN program that having the knowledge to help someone doesn’t really help when you hand it out from your high horse. People need real solutions to help in real life to make the biggest impact. So how do you make the best of limited options?
- Shop the perimeter of your store. No matter the store. If you buy fruits and veggies, eggs, and meat you WILL save money. What gets expensive is buying all of the fresh food and then also winding up and down the aisles for packaged foods that are marketed as healthy. BIG DIFFERENCE!
- Avoid packaged foods. Don’t buy organic and natural foods that are in packages, they cost more and they are no healthier than the junk you used to buy. For example, avoiding grains doesn’t do much good if you are buying a “gluten free” version of the same junk food. And eating processed cereal, breads, pastas, etc. doesn’t really do much better than eating the same thing only made with a few organic ingredients.
- Shop local farmer’s markets and roadside stands. You won’t always find organic, but you can find local produce and sometimes eggs and meat. Knowing your farmer makes it a budget and environmental impact worth your time and effort. (Not to mention farmer’s markets are hella fun!)
- Grow your own. If you don’t have a farmers market, consider growing your own. You don’t need much space, just a few seasonal veggies and fruits will do the trick. Often they can be grown herbs can be grown indoors and the rest outdoors in containers.
- Make your food in advance. At my house, even in the summer, there are only 2-3 nights per week we have the opportunity for a big, sit down dinner. So on Sunday’s when we grill steaks, we also grill a bunch of chicken for the upcoming week. On Tuesday, if we grill burgers, we grill 8 instead of 4 so there is enough for lunches and leftovers on a busier night.
- Set a budget. Our family of 4 has a budget of $200 a week for groceries (and things you buy at the grocery store, shampoo, soap, pet food, etc). We like expensive organic gourmet coffee (which we source locally from a shop that roasts their own), we like to eat steak each week. Even with the “extravagance” we still spend an average of $140 per week to eat fresh organic food. And if I need to or want to I can get that really close to $100 per week by simply eating more plants and less protein.
- Take cash. One of the biggest helpers in reaching financial freedom and accruing wealth for my family has been using cash. Our grocery bill used to be around $1200+ per month. Leave the debit/credit card at home, plan meals, take cash so you have to make it work in your budget, this focuses you to make sure you get what you need in your budget. Cash is also best at farmers markets and roadside stands.
- Stop buying protein shakes, pink drinks, etc. Yep, you read that right. All that crap isn’t helping your weight or wellness efforts and if you are buying from your friends and family that are “distributors” they are overpriced as well. They also contain subpar and healthy ingredients, even the supplements.
- Read the labels. If you are following this plan, then you aren’t buying food with labels. But sometimes produce is packaged and meat always comes in a package. Make SURE you read the labels. For example, 80% of U.S. beef and pork contain Ractopamine (a.k.a. phenethanolamine) and this should be avoided (its actually been outlawed in other countries), so check your meat labels carefully!
Overall, you can make it work, if you want to make it work. Decide how important you and your families health and wellness is and make it happen.
There are also a few places online you can add to your shopping list, Thrive Market has some good deals as well as Amazon.com (and I expect that to expand with Amazon buying Whole Foods. Although these places should be used to buy things that must come in a package like spices, coffees, condiments, and cooking oils.
What is your favorite real, nourishing food tip? I’d love to hear from you!