Since we are meeting here at Inspired Eats, I can only assume that you are a savvy consumer of high-quality ingredients. Of course, I love that about you! I often spend at least some of my time with clients trying to convince them of the benefits of a cleaner diet anchored by protein, fiber and fat. The notion of a life with more energy, fewer allergies, less inflammation & perhaps better sleep and sex often gets their attention. So what could possibly be the down side you ask ??? The answer is often $$$.
That’s right. MONEY. It can be expensive to eat healthy. Depending on where you started in the first place, moving to a diet of whole foods can have a sizeable impact on your budget. I, personally, subscribe to the “Pay Now or Pay Later” philosophy. Tired of all those daily allergy meds? Well, cleaning up your diet can eliminate your need for them.
In the end, that’s where you’ll be: spending less on meds, enjoying more productivity, fewer visits to the doctor. But in the meantime, what to do about your new food budget today, this week, this month ? As you work hard to integrate your whole foods diet into your life, here are some ways you can save money on your very next visit to the market:
- Fruit. My kids love fresh berries. They literally fight over a bowl of raspberries. While their fighting over fruit is a very proud moment for me (mostly), it’s also like watching 15 bucks disappear, poof. Gone, instantly, are the organic strawberries, blueberries and raspberries we just bought at the market. I can’t afford to do this each week so I’ve gone frozen. Not 100%, but now I’m consistently storing prepackaged organic fruits in our home freezer. The organic fruits are much cheaper than those we buy in the fresh produce section. Since most frozen fruits are picked at their peek of ripeness, they’re still filled with the phytonutrients that has me serving them up in the first place. We make popsicle treats, smoothies and nutty pancakes using these fruits.
- Fish. Fish is another thing we try to rotate on to the family table at least weekly. Fresh fish, especially wild caught, can be prohibitive for the old pocketbook so often I’ll buy it frozen, which is definitely cheaper. Like fruit, fish is often flash frozen at its freshest (just out of the water) before any of that yummy omega-3 fat can degrade. When I come home with the fresh, unfrozen in hand, I often feel pressure to get it cooked as soon as possible. So on those nights when the soccer game goes late and all I really have time to do is scramble up a few omelettes, I feel obliged to grill up my fish before it turns on me. If its frozen, I can just leave it be for a more convenient night.
A few guidelines on keeping your fish fresh: don’t leave it unrefrigerated for more than 30 minutes and don’t leave it in your fridge for more than 3 days. Your nose will often tell you when your fish has gone bad, but since all fish smells a little, well, fishy – sometimes it can be hard to tell. A few other signs to look for: when your fillet’s color changes to yellow or grayish around the edges or takes on a mushy, slimy texture, it is time to toss it out.
- Spices. When you are in the midst of transitioning away from processed, prepackaged ingredients to a whole foods diet, your taste buds are transitioning along with you. It can be difficult to retrain your buds when they are accustomed to the fake flavors that additives like aspartame and MSG serve up. The artful use of seasonings such as pumpkin pie spice, dill and curry will help keep things flavorful for you without the junk your body can’t recognize as food. Restocking your spice drawer for all of the new recipes you are trying is another added expense to your grocery bill, so as you sample your new recipes and some new flavors, buy your spices in the bulk section. They are cheaper there and you can buy them there in smaller amounts so they don’t lose their flavor after camping out in your cupboard for months.
A few guidelines on keeping your spices fresh: Make sure and transfer them from bulk bags to glass containers like these. Then store containers in a cool, dark place to prevent oxidation.
- Meats. In the bulk section? Well, sort of. Think of it like this: often we’re buying chicken thighs one night for a crockpot recipe and breasts another night for fajitas. This “piece meal” (ha ha) approach to buying poultry – or any other meat – is more expensive than buying the whole bird. Purchase a good pair of game shears and you can trim your bird into the pieces you need for your nightly meals.
A few guidelines on choosing your best meat options: If free-range, organic birds are not in your budget, then stick with lean cuts of meat like the breast, advise authors Jayson and Mira Calton of Rich Food, Poor Food. Interesting fact: since toxins tend to take up residence in fat cells, the leaner the meat – the fewer the toxins. Another good option they suggest if organic is out of your family’s budget is to buy birds fed a 100% vegetarian diet because then you’re assured they were not fed any animal by-products. Animal by-products are parts of animals not intended for human consumption and include all, and I mean all, parts of animals: hooves, feathers and other more undesirable parts. Unfortunately, outbreaks in farm animals have been linked to these by-products. The most notorious, Mad Cow disease, is suspected to be the result of feeding meat and bone meal to cattle in the UK.
Come back tomorrow for more ways to stretch your organic dollar. I’ll be sharing my secret on a move that will save you money on your grocery bill AND get your kids eating more veggies. Like I said, I’m on a mission to make a whole foods diet possible for as many people as I can – so the more strategies, the better.
Have any ideas to share ? We’d love to hear how you make the most of your organic dollar when you shop.
Margaret can help you navigate the complexities of going allergy-free, including personalized nutrition plans, personal shopping lists, consultations and more. You can learn more about how the Wellness Pantry can help you by visiting her site here.