I drove by a fast food place the other day and saw a sign for a full meal (burger, drink, fries) for less than $4.
My first thought was, “yum, fries” #gottakeepithonest but my second thought was, “how gross that you can eat that much food for $4. If they are making money, that entire meal probably costs them less than $1.”
That felt wrong. But you know what also feels wrong? Spending $12 on a bag of organic cherries. So where’s the middle line for us budget-conscious healthanistas?
Quick pep talk: you will always have a limit to your resources because they are finite (think time and money) but never a lack of resourcefulness, as these are infinite (creativity, resilience, problem-solving, passion, gratitude, drive/tenacity, kindness, shits to give...).
Remember, oftentimes we're playing the game of time or money, and both of those are resources, which makes it tough when both are tight.
If you’re trying to save money (resources) on food, you’ve got to get creative (resourceful).
Some things that will help...
MAXIMIZE WHAT YOU BUY
I love this article and have used that "nutrient dense, less expensive foods" list often. Don't skim through it, really take it in. There are pretty pictures and inexpensive recipes too!
Also, buy these Debbie Meyer Green Bags so you don't waste a single thing. They work seriously well!
BUY IN SEASON
That bag of organic cherries was $12 because they were out of season. I noticed that as soon as cherry season came around, they dropped down to $4. Check out this seasonal eating guide. It will show you what’s in season in your area.
YOU MIGHT HAVE TO SKIP ORGANIC
Depending on where you live, you might notice that buying organic is not that much more expensive than conventional produce. If it’s a matter of a few dollars per food shop, always choose organic.
If we’re talking a chunk of change, don't worry about buying organic, but make sure you wash your fruits and veggies carefully. This is very important.
Washing Leafy Greens
- Fill a salad spinner with greens, then fill it with filtered water.
- Add a teaspoon of baking soda.
- Soak your greens for about a minute, swirl, dump the water, rinse, and spin til dry.
- If you don’t have a salad spinner, you can add the greens, water, and baking soda to a bowl, let them soak a minute, use a strainer, rinse, then pat leaves dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels.
Washing Other Veggies
- Fill a bowl with filtered water.
- Add a teaspoon of baking soda.
- Add your veggies.
- Soak for a minute or so.
- Scrub with a brush.
- Rinse well!
- Be super proud of yourself for being the healthiest (and richest!?) person you know.
- Smooth skinned fruits, like apples, nectarines, or cherries, can be washed in a baking soda bath like your veggies.
- Berries can be rinsed under cold water in a mesh strainer, then gently patted dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels just before you intend to eat them. Although you might want to rinse off berries when you bring them home, doing so increases moisture and accelerates spoilage, microflora, and mold.
MAKE A PLAN
When you’re on a budget, your goal is precision, not restriction. You need to find that sweet spot of having enough food so you’re not forced to waste money picking things up, but not so much that some goes to waste.
The only way to do that is having a plan. This means a grocery list, meal plan, making time to shop for your own foods (it’s only an hour at most if you’ve planned), time to chop veggies, etc. If you don’t do this, you’re paying someone to do it for you (Instacart, restaurants, Favor, etc).
If you don’t know how to batch cook or not sure where to start, of course I’ve captured some of my favorite ideas that I actually use every week for you!
And if you’re lucky enough for someone to invite you over for dinner, throw that pre-made tupperware meal in the freezer so you can eat it later.
And if you’re single, get on a dating app and see who will buy you dinner. [Kidding! Please don’t write me an email.]
Everything has an ebb and flow. The wisest advice is to keep your head when things get tight and ride out the wave without sacrificing your greatest asset of all: your health.