Many people have the misconception that enjoying healthy food is not affordable. Years ago, I used to have this opinion myself, until I started learning more about healthy, whole food prices and how to prepare my own meals at home. I hope that this article helps give you ideas regarding how to save money as well as how to save your health. Plus using this method, you will know exactly what is in your food, because you will preparing the food yourself using whole ingredients.
This post is for a variety of people. I tried to approach this in a way that would be feasible for many individuals and families. With that said, I understand that everyone’s budget and lifestyle is different, but I also want to point out an interesting fact:
“America spends less on food than any other country.” –Source
Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at how we are really spending our money. Some people who claim they cannot afford to eat healthfully find ways to spend money on cable TV and internet, daily coffees, alcohol, recreational drugs, lottery tickets, take out food, and the list goes on.
I have found that we spend money on what is most important to us. By monitoring your/your family’s spending habits for a couple of months, it might be eye-opening to see exactly where the money is going, and there might be room for change.
Also, eating healthy now will save you money in the long run. Type II diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other Western illnesses, in most cases, are preventable. These diseases cost tax payers billions of dollars every year, and moreover, it costs you time with your loved ones and more money out of your pocket for medications and medical care. In my opinion, eating REAL FOOD is a better option.
All of This Food for Less Than $95
This would feed 2-3 people for a week or more. So if you are an individual, you could easily eat this way for around $50 a week with proper planning. Compare that to the price of two-three people eating out for just two dinners a week, and that does not cover all of the family’s other food needs. Yikes! You can take that money savings and go on a nice vacation.
Pictured here is all of the food I purchased for less than $95. This would easily feed a family of two-three people for a week or more (depending on how much you eat). I personally eat a lot and love having an abundance of options available at home. I purchased this food in NJ (an expensive state to live in) with no coupons.
I shopped at Aldi’s, Shop Rite, Dean’s and Natural Foods General Store (for the raw cacao and corn tortillas), Nuts.com (for the sesame seeds) and my own garden. However, most of this stuff is from Aldi’s. Surprised? It’s true. I wanted to show how virtually anyone can make this work and you definitely do not have to go to more than one or two places to make it happen, if that is not an option for you.. It just takes a shift in food choices.
Here is the breakdown of the food items with prices:
Note: Many of this would carry over into another week or more, so that is even greater savings. In other words, this might be enough food for two weeks (again, it depends on how many people and how much you eat). I offer a suggestion for meal planning below. The prices shared are for the entire bag/container/item, unless otherwise noted.
1. Organic sprouted corn tortillas: $2.99
12 tortillas total – enough for one-two weeks easily
2. Frozen peas: $0.95
3. Organic Frozen Blueberries (4 bags x $2.99 ea.): $11.96
4. Organic Frozen Strawberries: $2.99
5. Natural Whole Oats: $0.99
There is easily enough here for two weeks, if both people eat oatmeal or every single day, so I calculated for one week’s worth. You can also use this to make my 3-ingredient banana chocolate chip cookies.
6. Unsweetened Almond Milk (2 cartons at $2.49 ea.): $4.98
This variety is carrageenan-free and does not have other junk in it. However, I recommend trying to make my homemade raw, vegan organic almond milk. It’s so easy, delicious, and healthy!
7. Guacamole: $2.99
Again, I recommend making your own, but this blog post is for a variety of people. This brand of guacamole I found out Aldi’s uses only real ingredients and contains no preservatives.
8. Organic Baby Spinach: $2.49
9. Organic Mixed Salad Greens: $2.49
10. Carrots: $1.39
11. Walnuts: $3.25
The total was $6.49 for the whole bag, so I calculated half of this item for the week. These will last 1-3 weeks depending on how many nuts and seeds your family eat.
12. Organic Bananas (18 bananas total): $4.14
13. Sweet Potatoes (1 bag): $2.49
14. Navel Oranges (1 bag): $3.99
15. Multi-colored Peppers: $3.29
16. Green Onions: $0.99
17. Celery: $1.59
18. Organic Grape Tomatoes (1 x $1.99 ea.): $3.98
19. Avocados (2 x $0.99 ea.): $1.98
20. Dry beans (black, garbanzo, and split pea, 3 bags total): $2.97
Dry beans are healthy and are not packed in BPA-coated cans.
21. Cabbage: $1.79
22. Pure Vanilla Extract: $0.50
I calculated this item for a weeks worth, a person used vanilla every day (it’s $1.99 for the entire bottle.)
23. Pure Maple Syrup: $3.99
24. Organic Pasta Sauce: $1.99
25. Pineapple: $1.89
26. Organic Red Grapes: $2.99
27. Organic Apples (1 bag): $4.99
28. Organic Sesame Seeds: $1.00
I calculated this item for a week’s worth, if a person used sesame seeds everyday. The total was $3.9 for 1 pound.
29. Organic Cinnamon: $0.99
I calculated this item for a week’s worth, if a person used cinnamon everyday.
30. Organic Dates: $3.25
The total was $6.49 for the whole bag, so I calculated half of this item for the week. These will last 1-3 weeks depending on how many dates you use.
31. Lemons and lime: $1.75
32. Organic Brown Rice: $1.99
33. Organic Quinoa: $4.00
The total was $7.99 for the whole bag, so I calculated half of this item for the week. These will last 1-3 weeks depending on how many dates you use.
34. Fair Trade Organic Raw Cacao: $6.30
I purchased a month’s worth. So this calculation is based on a serving of cacao used in a recipe every single day.
35. Red onions: $0.99
36. Organic Zucchini and Yellow Squash: Free, from the garden
TOTAL = $94.43
What to Make with All of this:
I will be making a variety of dishes including wraps, soups, salads, smoothies, roasted vegetables, quinoa dishes, rice and bean recipes, fresh fruit salad, desserts like chocolate walnut truffles and oat cookies, and the list goes on. I can also make hummus and enjoy it with fresh vegetables for a snack, or just snack on fruit. I can also freeze the bananas to make banana ice cream and blend with frozen berries. I can use seeds, avocado, nuts, lemon, lime, tomatoes, or even fruit to make combinations of homemade, blended, oil-free dressings that taste really delicious. So many possibilities!
Money Saving Tips:
1. Grow your own food. Not pictured here are fresh greens, herbs, jalapeño peppers, cucumbers, and heirloom tomatoes in my garden right now. These treasures would add even more food to this already abundant landscape! My garden has been producing for the past couple of months. It’s a labor of love. I am not perfect at it, but I approach it all as an adventure. I don’t have a large property, and I still grow my own food. I know people who live in apartments who grow their own food. It’s possible!
2. Buy dry items like nuts, beans, seeds, spices, etc. when they are on sale, or from bulk bins, or support websites like Nuts.com. This website has an assortment of items that are organic and affordable. You will be pleasantly surprised when you do the math. I will be doing a product review blog post on this company soon.
3. Eat plant-based, whole foods entirely or as much as possible. Eating whole foods, plant-based vegan is one of the most economical diets there is. In fact, I cannot think of another diet that is healthier for people and our planet and is as affordable as a whole foods plant-based diet. Many people think eating this way is expensive, but look at the array of foods listed above and see how inexpensive it can be. And to be honest, I did not spend hours mapping out prices as much as I could have. I just purchased the majority of items from one grocery store and that was that. If you plan ahead, your grocery bills will be even less than mine.
Meat, eggs, dairy, and processed foods all come with a cost. The cost is more than what hits our wallets. It can have an impact on our health and it certainly has an impact on the environment, our drinking water, and the animals who suffer.
4. Eat seasonally. Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season will certainly help your wallet. Check out this informative seasonal food guide, so you can see what is in season where you live.
5. Use a shopping list and plan your meals. This has helped me with my money saving immensely. I recommend using a cash budgeting system (no more credit and debit card swipes), so you can visually see what you have to work with each week. I always go into a grocery store with a list that corresponds to the meals I plan to make that week. This saves time and money, and prevents impulse buying.
For great, healthy meal plans for individuals or families, I recommend The Happy Herbivore. My next blog post will be a product review on their meal plans.
6. Have fun and be creative. Food is nourishment and energy. It should be wholesome. The problem is that most Americans no longer cook or bake or make meals at home. It takes just a few minutes to make a smoothie in a blender or prepare a delicious salad. Baked sweet potatoes, grains, and roasted vegetables can be made in advance for the week, as can soups in the crockpot. The options are endless. Use this opportunity as a bonding time with your family. Preparing meals together can be fun and rewarding!
7. Support Local Organic Farmers through Farmer’s Markets, CSAs, and Co-Ops. You can also try having fresh, organic produce delivered to your home by trying Door-to-Door Organics. Here is my blog post where I explain how this works and how I rate the service.
8. Buy food that is in bulk or on sale and be mindful of prices. This comes down to planning again, and it can be especially helpful to look for sales on the dry items and produce. I recommend looking out for when items go on sale, or buy from a discount store like Aldi’s which now carries a variety of organic items such as salad greens, kale, spinach, apples, tomatoes, bananas, and frozen berries. Buying at a bulk grocery can be helpful and cost effective too, but just do not fall into the trap of buying pre-made items or anything you do not actually need.
9. Avoid convenience foods. When it comes to eating healthy, this is where a lot of people go wrong. Buying pre-made, store-made, or pre-packaged health foods is always more expensive than making the recipes at home in advance. The same goes for things like salad dressings and treats; it’s always more cost effective to make your own.
I hope some of these tips give you ideas of how to save some green and live green in the process.