The most common concern when switching to a whole foods plant-based diet is the following:
“I really want to eat better but it is so expensive and I cannot afford it.”
Sounds familiar? Then this post is for you. I’ll break down how to make good food choices while shopping on a budget so that you too can follow a whole foods and plant-based diet.
1. Setting priorities
Setting priorities is extremely important when eating on a budget. Setting priorities means that you stick to the basis of your diet even though you are tempted to do otherwise. To figure out what to cut in your diet to save expenses, start a food journal or mentally go through a week and see on what foods/drinks you spend your money on. You might come to the conclusion: No more Starbucks coffee on my way home, no more bought snacks and no more second drink when going out. Cha-ching! More money to spend wisely on proper food choices.
2. Quality over quantity
Yes, organic fruits and vegetables tend to cost more. But checking the list of the “dirty dozen” (http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-214) will ensure that you won’t ingest harsh chemicals and buy foods that truly help nourish your body so that you feel satisfied. Quality over quantity also means not being afraid of buying 3 onions and 2 tomatoes if that is what you need for a meal. You don’t always have to buy large quantities if the chances are high that most of it will go to waste.
3. Buying in bulk
Local farmer’s markets and sometimes even supermarkets offer the possibility to buy in bulk. (See blog post “Bulk up” to learn how and get all the info you need). While it is wise to carefully select some foods and buy a decent amount that you will use for sure, food staples that you eat everyday are best to buy in bulk. It will save you a significant amount of money and your kitchen is stocked up.
4. Eating clean = Eating simple
The easier the better. The best thing when eating on a budget is to create a very simplistic basis of your diet. So that when more money is available you can stock up your kitchen (with spices for example or superfoods) but in general you can rely on not tapping into unhealthy eating habits when money is short. Eating simple means also buying fresh ingredients instead of products. Rather than paying packaged foods you opt for foods that won’t come with a list of ingredients you don’t even know and give you the possibility to create your own delicious meals. Good food staples to keep in mind:
- Tomatoes, Apples and Bananas (buy in bulk! choose ripe bananas as they are better for your health and markets/supermarkets give them away cheaper most of the times),
- Quinoa, rice and beans (if the selection at your supermarket is still pricey try ordering large quantities online, rice: preferably brown rice)
- Onions (onions make hearty dishes and soups and not only help regulating your blood sugar but also keep your heart healthy)
- Garlic and ginger (there is a great variety in using both and they add great flavor to your diet)
5. Monitoring and planning ahead
We fall off of our initial plan to eat healthy most likely when we’re starving or coming home after a long day of work. Also being active during the day, not being able to eat at home makes up for many possibilities to make poor food choices and spend money on snacks, drinks and meals that could be avoided. Spending an extra hour in the kitchen on Sunday to pre-cook all your lunch meals for the week can save you not only money but also ensures that you successfully stay on your path. What I found extremely useful is also keeping foods in the fridge or freezer that can be easily combined with other/fresh ingredients for a proper and quick meal. An example could be a container of pre-cooked quinoa that you can heat up and eat with veggies or toss in your salad.
6. Check Locavori for recipes 😉
Here on Locavori you can find many recipes that are easy to re-create. Hearty dishes are excellent for cooking ahead and storing in the fridge so that you can pull out quick and delicious meals out of the fridge all week long. All recipes allow many variations so that you can always use what you have on hand.
I hope this little post helped you on your journey! If you have questions or comments please leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook. 🙂