It’s common these days to hear that eating healthily is expensive. But is it, really?
A Healthy Diet
The truth is, no single food has it all. No one food has all the essential nutrients the body needs on a daily basis. That is why having a healthy, rounded diet is important, because you need a variety of different foods to help you get all of the nutrients that you need.
Achieving a healthy balance of 5 main food groups is the key to healthy eating. These are:
• Whole grains - such as oats, rye, and quinoa.
• Fruits and vegetables - rich in vitamins, fibre, and minerals.
• Protein - this helps repair body tissues. It usually comes with high levels of minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and iron.
• Dairy - this helps improve bone and teeth health and is a good source of calcium.
• Unsaturated fats - some are essential for brain health, energy, as well as for skin, hair, and joint health.
Does achieving this balance come with an insurmountable cost?
The Real Cost
Truth be told, healthy eating doesn’t have to be drastically expensive. In fact, you can get your fruits and vegetables, protein, whole grains, dairy, and fats at very reasonable prices (but it might require some shopping around!).
Being healthy doesn’t need to you need to buy expensive organic or gluten-free produce, both of which come with a hefty price tag. Nor do you need to buy exotic and expensive imported products. If you shop smart, you can obtain delicious, nutritious foods for less than you think!
Unless you have a medical condition (such as coeliac disease) that means you need a speciality diet, you can achieve a healthy eating pattern without having to break the bank.
The Psychology Behind Eating Healthy and Its Cost
One of the reasons why some individuals misconceive healthy foods as being expensive is that because they tend to associate healthy eating with specialised health-food stores and food co-ops. These stores tend to have fancy displays and high prices. In many cases you’re buying a “label”, rather than a vastly superior product.
You’ll also find costly, imported “superfoods” that claim to give health benefits. Whilst many of these can provide a vitamin, phytochemical and mineral boost, you’d be surprised by how much local, cheaper fruit and veg can also provide.
So, before you give up the ghost and buy a bag of oven chips, we’ll give you 5 handy tips to shop smart and get your vital nutrients!
1. Bulk Buy for Value
Bigger packets usually mean that each individual item is cheaper. Take a look at the sell-by or use-by dates and think about whether you can use all of the items by this date. The trade-off between buying more for better value and minimising food waste is crucial.
2. Plan Ahead
One of the reasons we overspend at the store is because we don’t plan ahead. With so many options out there that you can easily put in your cart, it’s so easy to get carried away! So, plan first at home. Make a list of the things that you need to buy. It can also be helpful to have a menu planned for the next three days, week, or even month! This means you only buy the essentials, saving on unnecessary items.
3. Save on Protein
Since you’ll want some protein in your diet, you’ll want to stock up on some protein-rich foods. However, many animal sources of protein can be really expensive! However, there are cheaper, protein-rich foods available, such as quinoa and lentils, that can be used as the base of any dish. You can also try going to a local butcher or store and asking whether they have any cheaper cuts of meat available. You can often buy tougher meats (such as shoulder) relatively cheaply and slow cook them. This also means you can bulk buy for even more value, and make a casserole that can last for days!
4. Frozen Foods
There’s a stigma about buying frozen fruits and veg. But did you know that most frozen veg may actually have a higher vitamin and mineral content than packaged veg? The freezing process locks in these nutrients. This makes frozen fruits and veg a cheaper, nutrient-rich option.
5. Buy in Season
Take advantage of fruits and vegetables that are in season. With this, you will not only buy them at their best, but you will also get them at lower costs! If you have a local fruit and veg market, you may be able to get even better deals there (but bear in mind they often won’t last as long in the fridge!).
In a Nutshell...
When it comes to a healthy diet and its cost, do remember that healthy foods don’t have to be expensive. It all comes down to you and your knowledge on healthy eating. That’s why it’s important that you do your research before you spend on foods!