"Eating Healthy on a Budget" Q&A with Holistic Health Coach

Most people think eating healthy is expensive, so they opt for processed food, which is cheap! But, did you know that you can actually eat healthy on a budget? I reached out to Food + Lifestyle Coach from Holistic Glow Bertha Thomas to answer some nutritional questions.

Living Simply Real: What are some meals people can purchase that won't cost them an arm + a leg?

Bertha: Canned goods* are great to have on hand - They're great value! 

Beans and chickpeas are a great example, they're filled with protein, fiber and antioxidants. I personally love the Eden foods because they use kombu seaweed to season their products. 

*In order to avoid the BPA linning and/or high sodium in some canned products you can always opt for dried beans and legumes and cook them yourself. 

LSR: What is some advice you can provide people looking to eat healthy on a budget?

B: What's important to understand is that quality matters, especially when it comes to certain types of food; Consider these options:

Visit your local farmer's market: It will not only save you a few pennies but you will also find fresh seasonal produce and support the local economy in your area. Usually, seasonal produce is cheaper and more available than other "exotic" fruits and veggies.

Go for frozen fruits and veggies -  As long as they're not added any additives, sugars or preservatives you can use them for a number of different recipes! They are picked at their ripe state so they're going to provide your body with more nutrients. 

Visit the bulk section - This is a great place to fill up on your pantry staples, including beans, grains, nuts, seeds and even spices! Always compare the unit prices of bulk vs packaged products to be sure you're getting the best deal. Local stores with bulk sections areas are: Whole Foods (Seeds, nuts, grains, etc), Earth Fare (herbs & spices), Garner's Natural Life (herbs & spices)

Take a look at the Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15 - This is a great resource to understand which fruits and veggies contain the highest amount of toxic pesticides when grown conventionally and will help you select your produce . You can print it out and carry it in your wallet! 

Get in the kitchen more often - You'll notice that making your own food is not only cheaper but it's also a great way to learn what works for you and what doesn't.

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Money saving tips:

  • Shop from the weekly sales flyer and use those coupons!
  • Consider choosing store brands, which offer similar products at a more economical price than the brand names
  • Try buying online - Thrive Market and Vitacost are great options 

A note on animal protein:

If you choose to eat animal protein it's really important to choose the best quality (the toxins are stored in the fatty tissues so when you're eating animal fats and proteins from a bad quality meat you'll be getting more toxins). You want to make sure to avoid conventional meats as much as possible, processed meats and farmed fish (they're fed horrible diets, kept in very bad conditions and little nutrition.They're usually added color and to give them a more "natural looking") These animals are not in a natural environment and are given lots of antibiotics to survive because of the conditions they live in. 

When you choose higher quality meats, you will be getting higher amounts and quality of nutrients, which is directly related to the way the animals are fed, treated and raised. So, if meat is a really important priority to you, choose wisely and you will end up saving so much money in the long run. The cut of meat matters: Opting for cheaper cuts of meat like ground beef or getting a roast and slow cooking them is a good way to save money on this type of food.

LSR: What is the cheapest most nutritious food?

In my opinion, canned fish is an awesome way of saving money and getting great nutritional benefits. Aim for fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. These species are more flavorful than very lean fish like tuna, and they're also more nutritious because you get a bigger dose of Omega-3s and Vitamin D.

B: People always think it's more expensive to eat healthy. Is that true?

It's a matter of perspective. Think of it this way: If you bought a fancy car, would you use the cheapest gas to fuel it? The same idea applies to our food - we should see it as an investment in our health.

We are given this body just once so we want to treat it well and fuel it with the best quality food so we can feel better and do the things we want to do in life - Health is our vehicle.

Organic doesn't always mean better and there are many ways to eat healthier without spending a fortune - You just need to spend some time learning where, how and what to buy. And of course, spend more time in the kitchen, making your own food.

In conclusion: There are always good, better and best options for everyone, so first and foremost we want to make sure we are making the best food choices based on where we're at - Everyone's journey is different. Find what works for you and do what works for you and your finances.

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Why I Chose A Healthier Lifestyle

Two years ago, when we went on our honeymoon, we met two nutritionists who changed our perspective on what we put in our bodies. We were told that most people do not take the time to read food labels on the back on items. If we wanted to lose a few inches and reduce the toxins in our body, we needed to follow this diet for a few months. 

So, we abided.

For a few months straight for breakfast we ate hard-boiled eggs, chose lunch and dinners items such as salad, whole grains and avoided certain foods such as molasses and citric acid. BTW - did you know that citric acid is one of the main ingredients in some of the foods we consume day in and day out? I didn't - until I met with that nutritionists a few years ago.

That's why I opted for a healthier lifestyle. That's why I check ingredients in the foods I eat, That's why I only order from scratch-made, local restaurants around the Upstate.  That's why I bring my lunch to work every day. That's why I'd rather sit across from my husband at our kitchen table eating a home-cooked meal than go out to eat. That's why I'd rather spend 2 1/2 hours in a grocery store making sure I know exactly what I'm putting in my body.

When I wasn't educated about the foods I ate, I'd often bad about my choices and myself in general. Whenever my co-workers order food, I usually always say no because the places they choose are fast food joints or places that serve processed foods.

Now, if you like processed foods, I'm not trying to put you down or change the way you eat. I'm simply stating why I've opted to choose a healthier lifestyle. Processed foods make me feel crappy. Processed foods make me feel hungry, yet empty at the same time. 

And, if you'd like to challenge yourself, instead of grabbing a quick burger at Mickey D's, why not make you and your family a burger. In my opinion, it will be healthier + better for you! Not to mention, you can add all the fixings you want and know what's IN your food.

Let me know your favorite foods to cook!