Too often than not, people deceive themselves into thinking that eating healthy is an expensive time-consuming investment that they just don’t quite have the time to do. Ironically, both those statements are not true at all. Sure healthy food can be expensive, but it can also be affordable. Secondly, eating healthy doesn’t require hours and hours of meal prepping as some might think. Eating healthy is not only affordable, but it is also likely to save you thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills in the future. This isn’t a promise but it is very likely based on the most present research on life expectancy and all causes of mortality concerning dietary and lifestyle intervention. Let’s outline a few principles that may help you on building a journey of health through an affordable lens.
- Minimize eating out.
Eating out, regardless if it’s healthy or not, can be an absolute drainer when it comes to budgeting for affordable food. Today, at a local Jersey Mikes or Chipotle, you are likely spending $14-18 for a single meal. Compare that to a rotisserie chicken at Costco $4.99 which is 3 pounds of chicken, likely enough protein to feed you for 6-8 meals. Sure you aren’t just eating a whole chicken for lunch, but if you add in a serving or two of potatoes and a piece of fruit, your meal is likely $2-3 at most with as much if not more protein and more nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources. This isn’t to say you ought never to eat again, just consider the amount of money and frequency you are eating out. The next couple of principles will make achieving this step easier.
2. Become aware of the most affordable foods in your local grocery store.
Many people think that healthy eating needs to be purely organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised highest quality vegetables, steak, and eggs, but it doesn’t. Greek yogurt, fruit, chicken, pork tenderloin, potatoes, and a bag of frozen veggies are all cheap nutrient dense options that won’t break the bank. Grabbing a rotisserie chicken for $5, a bag of potatoes, and some fruit at your local Costco is going to give you upwards of 6-8 meals and it’s likely less than a burrito at Chipotle down the street or Jersey Mikes next door that feeds you at most 2 meals before the rest ends up in the trash. Take 30 minutes one evening and research the most affordable fruits, veggies, and protein sources online and boom you are already taking action toward better health.
3. Stop saying you don’t have the time.
If you pull out your iPhone and have more than an hour of screen time daily involving leisure (Instagram, youtube, Facebook, twitter) then it’s time to face the reality that you indeed do have time to spend 30 minutes prepping some food so that you can grab it on the go tomorrow before your day. I get it, life can be exhausting. Too often people say they don’t have the time to cook some chicken, bake a couple of potatoes, or steam roast a vegetable medley. Find recipes you love and easy ways to cook things and the inconvenience of time will seem no more. Invest in an air fryer, it has the potential to save time, money, and excess calories that your body does not need.
4. Learn to Cook
Most people say they don’t like cooking because they don’t know how to cook. Once you find recipes that you love and your body loves, it is so much easier. Today, the internet is filled with copycat recipes for some of your favorite fast food recipes, they are just twice as cheap and 2x healthy because they aren’t cooked in tons of oil. Spending just a weekend learning 2-3 different recipes for your week can make eating healthy so much more affordable. Cooking can also serve as a wonderful way to connect with friends, and family, and exercise the creativity of your unique likes and preferences.
5. Stop majoring in the Minor Issues of Nutrition.
So many people today buy into the fear that they absolutely must buy the organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, cleanest source of avocados, steak, eggs, oil, etc. I can promise you that most of your results are coming from the primary issues of nutrition 1. Eating primarily whole unprocessed foods 2. Minimizing processed grains, added sugar, and oil 3. Eating adequate protein and fiber to increase satiety and decrease cravings 4. Adhering to your healthy dietary habits 80-90% of the week. For some people, spending the extra bucks is necessary if they have unique allergies to gluten, dairy, nuts, etc. While people like to think that they are lactose intolerant or that conventional meat or eggs inherently cause excess inflammation in their body, the data continues to support the fact that excess caloric intake is the primary cause of chronic inflammation in the body, not whether your diet is entirely organic or not.