I hear this complaint a lot. “It’s expensive to eat healthy”
I’ve once even said it myself. But one of my good friends ( she’s like a second mom) to me, corrected me, and I’ve never ever forgot her response.
“Since when did an apple become more expensive then a chocolate bar?”
So any time I’m thinking “Eating healthy is sooooo more expensive” I remember that moment.
There are lots of ways to eat better without too much added cost. But our issue is not enough Time, as we have both working parents, kids in 2 or more sports, and having 2.2 children average household.
But what we’re truely wanting is to Eat Healthy QUICK….
Don’t buy the “50% less fat” or other gimmicks for starters when your looking to cut down on calories. You’ll always pay more these types of foods, and when you look closely at the nutrition facts on 50% less fat and regular – You’ll find the 50% less fat – they’ve added more sugar or starch – You’ll find the Carbs are much much higher. So your not really eating more healthy, because they’ve done the switch calories on you. Less Fat = More Sugar/Starch or Less Sugar = More fat. Read your labels and compare Regular vs Low Fat or Low Sugar. If your calorie counting – look at both and compare.
What my meals consist of for a family of 4. ( During the Week – Fast paced as we all go different directions) And I’m always short on time, so I aim for 30 minutes per Dinner/Supper.
Breakfast – $2.99 cereal – always somewhat healthy. Cheerios is the least expensive (some what )healthy cereal and is frequently on sale. With 1% Milk. Eat the correct portions – Read the box of what their Nutrition box is giving. So Measure it out 3/4 cup dry with 1/2 cup of milk. Other cereal I buy Mini Wheats, Vector, Corn Flakes, special K, Kashi, but our main staple is always Cheerios. You’ll never find Captain Crunch or Fruit Loops in my cupboards.
Lunch – My teenagers pack their own lunch – and they do pack (crap) – granola bars ( I usually do try and find the highest fibre content one’s that are on sale – when possible – popular is Nutrigrain and Fibre 1) Also I like to purchase Jello But will also purchase Puddings once in a while. I only purchase Orange juice for juice box’s ( What ever is cheapest for brand) Once in a blue moon I will purchase Koolaid jammers, but it’s like 2x a year.
Bread – Usually for the kids 100% whole wheat, I try hard to limit my personal own bread consumption. I do enjoy Whole Grain Bread such as Flax Seed Bread, etc, but it is a bit more money( double the price) , So I’ll buy “my bread” as a treat once in a while for myself.
For Myself at home I’ll eat a can of tuna with a tablespoon or two of Real Mayonaise, salt & pepper, or I will make myself a bowl of soup from a can.
Meat – Chicken, pork chops, Tilapa, hamburger and once in a while steak or seafood.
Vegetables – Lots of vegetables – I buy frozen and fresh. I will buy fresh what ever is in season. I wish I could afford organic but it’s just not affordable, with the amount of vegetables we buy on a regular basis.
We eat very plain.
Chicken – skin or skinless ( whatever I buy is on sale) I cook it the same way – I simply use as a baking brush , and coat a thin layer of mayonaise, and add seasoning to it – Parmasan /Herb spice or Parmasan cheese, or I’ll add a bit of bbq sauce. If you want it skinless – you can spend the extra minutes and take off the skin, and you can even de bone it, if the chicken is on sale that isn’t boneless and skinless.
Hamburger – I don’t buy extra lean ( I don’t buy much as I’m lucky to have a husband that is a hunter, so we usually don’t have to purchase much burger ( except now….as we’ve run out ) To make regular burger a little more lean – I simply drain all the fat during cooking as much as possible, using a colander . It’s not perfect, but it’s a bit healthier, than letting the grease sit.
Pork chops – I use my george forman and let the grease run off, and I’ll sometimes cut the fat off around the edges, if there is a lot of it. One of two things Either Spice ( Cajun or Tex Mex sprinkled or a tbspoon of bbq sauce)
Fish – Tilapa – Same thing Mayonaise and put shredded cheese on top, or sprinkle Lemon pepper on it with a bit of lemon juice ( broil it for 5 minutes each side)
Spagetti Squash – I use in most places as regular spegetti ( microwave it) done in 10 -13 minutes – add a bit of butter, and sprinkle parm on it. Cover with spagetti meat sauce ( done in seperate pan)
Salads – I do it 1 of 2 ways. I always have 1 to 2 bags in my fridge, In case I have unexpected company, or run out of salad making veggies. The other way – I have several small containers with pre prepared vegtables such as peppers, onions, cucumbers, celery, carrots, and then it’s about ripping some lettuce, and tossing the other veggies in, and complete. Bagged pkg of salad is $3.99 , so cutting up veggies once per week, is a lot more cost effective.
I don’t do any baking in my house, or very limited for special occasion. ( If I make it, I will eat it.)
I do cook other things, but this is my main staple of meals. I don’t eat potatoes unless I have company. I only eat pasta once a while and I buy the whole wheat pasta, when I decide to have pasta.
On Weekends When we’re all home, and not running into too many directions I’ll do “other cooking” and break up our pattern of what we eat during the week. Some times I make Egg Muffins with flax seed, or I make Spinach lasanga with no noodles.
What I drink: Lots of Black Coffee, Water, and Diet Pop.
Background: I grew up in a house, where it was floured fryed Meat, Potatoes, Drenched dressing salad. It’s taken years for me to get out of what I was raised from. I got married, and continued to do some of the same things, I always made potatoes, but started Not frying my meat as often, then I started experimenting with vegetables and figuring out different ways to cook them.
Then 8 years ago, I did do the Atkins diet – Lost lots of weight, and gradually put it back on again (kept a few pounds off) , Then 2 years ago, I began my mission of working out regularly and watch my intake on flour and sugar. I don’t promote Atkins, but I do owe the diet some credit in learning so much about food, and finding alternatives ways to avoid sugar and flour. I’ve lost weight and have kept it off, and am still losing. I’m right now aiming to try and shred the last 8 pounds, and should have it completed by Christmas time.
To This day I still limit my carb intake. I don’t watch or count, but I do attempt to limit my flour and sugar intake. I always try and pick a better substitute when possible.
Things I learned on my journey
1 Bagel has the same starch value of 10 pcs of bread
Cauliflower a bit over cooked and mash it, and add sour cream, makes an awesome alternative to a baked potatoe.
Food is Required for Fuel for your body, it does not have to be absolutely delicious to do the job 100% off the time.
Your food pallet can change. I once hated turnip, and now I love it.
Yams/Sweet Potatoes – are not only delicious but pack a lot of nutrients, and can be a side dish anytime of the year, not only at Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter.
Eat on a smaller plate
Weightloss = Diet/Exercise is 80% Diet 20% fitness
Purchase Vegetables as I need them and what is somewhat in season. Rotton Veggies is where things get expensive. So I never stock up on veggies, as some days, I may be the only one home for supper, and for me it’s hard to judge to far in advanced on whom I’ll be cooking for, So I usually will buy enough for 2 days. I keep frozen veggies ( green beans, peas, corn, spinach) also on hand for the odd days I don’t have enough, or simply didn’t get a chance to run the store.
Fruit – I’ve learned not to go crazy on purchasing too much ahead of time. I buy a few of what ever is in season. In my fruit bowl right now I have 3 plums, 3 Nectorines, and 4 apples.
Eating the same foods over and over is great for watching your calorie intake, as well as staying in control of what is in your house to eat. For me I found it simpler to create the same meals over and over again, slight variations. With Weekends bringing in “different recipes ” and Longer cooked meals, this tends to break the cycle of being bored.
The Biggest lesson I’ve learned is There’s No rules on what you should eat, or what goes together. There’s no hard rule, that you need a starch to complete a meal ( rice, pasta, potatoe)….. It’s ok to eat straight veggies. You can eat breakfast for supper! There’s No food police to tell you otherwise.
Where can you save money?
It will be more a bit more expensive to eat more healthy, but it shouldn’t break the bank.
Avoid Restaurants/Take out Food as much as possible. Big Dollars and Big Portions. We only eat out 1x per month approximately. Right now we do a bit more because of traveling to the lake but it’s about 2x per month.
A few nights ago I made Alfredo sauce ( jar), scallops, on whole wheat spagetti for $20.00 to basically feed 5 adults. ( 3 teenagers -2 being large growing boys, and two adults)
Tonight we had spaghetti squash (2 medium sized) 1kg of hamburger, 2 jars spaghetti sauce, 1 container of mushrooms, 1/4 cup of butter = approx $21.00 and I actually have left overs. ( 3 teenagers -2 being large growing boys, and two adults)
- I Drink my coffee 100% Black now – No creamer costs, no sugar or sugar substitute
- No Boxed meals such as Hamburger Helper, or Sidekicks, Minute rice,pasta,
- No shakes or Special food to purchase such as power bars
- I’m lucky and I have a hunter for a husband, so my meat purchasing is very little for most of the year – This helps me save all year long, as we will also butcher it our selves. But you could find a friend or family and perhaps look at purchasing a cow/pig/buffalo/lamb/
- See if you can find a local hutterite colony that sells whole chickens or turkeys and compare prices vs store bought.
- Take up Fishing if possible – In our family we love to fish during the summer, and having a wonderful fresh meals all the time.
- Visit Farmers Markets for local produce.
- Grow a garden – even if it’s a small one