Healthy Wholefood Eating on a Budget

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An article in today's Sydney Morning Herald provoked me to write this post, as there is often one massive misconception and barrier to eating the wholefood, healthy way - it's expensive.

Sure those meal deals are a bargain at the takeaway joint, but the monthly medications and doctors visits, extra sick days, and living life feeling rather uncomfortable isn't quite the deal you wanted, long term. For me, that meal deal bargain, is more of a bargain with your health.

I'm not saying you can't ever have fast food, take away and dirty, greasy no-good-for-you food ever, ever, ever again (though that'd be nice). I'm saying bargain carefully with your money. Opt for those foods very, very rarely if you must, and place your bets on the good stuff. Yep, you might pay a little extra occasionally for fruit and veggies, for grass fed meat, sustainable seafood and top quality dairy and other prepared produce, but 1 - it tastes way better, and 2 - your placing your bets on a deal that's going to reap massive dividends, short and long term if you keep it up. 

Wholefoods are food in their natural state or minimally processed. The foods that will nourish every single cell of your body, help prevent disease, help you perform, balance your mood, gain more energy, clear your skin, gloss your hair, strengthen your nails, add muscle, lean out and fit into those skinny jeans if that's your goal!

How I make wholefoods budget friendly

While I do enjoy eating out at healthy restaurants, you'll often find my handbag packed with nutrient dense snacks and lunch if necessary. 

I eat my breakfast before I leave the house, regardless of if I'm in a rush. If I am very busy, it's usually an overnight chia seed pudding, smoothie, or granola with milk and coconut yoghurt. Easy, quick and nourishing. 

You'll find me snacking on carrots, cucumber, and capsicum with homemade veggie dips. A trail mix of nuts, seeds and a sprinkle of dried fruit (not too much as they're high fodmap - something I can't tolerate much of), a bliss ball of some kind, a homemade muffin, cookies, green juice or mixed berries/piece of fruit. 

I make as much as I can at home because A- I know what is in it and can modify it to my taste buds and intolerances. B - It's much, much cheaper. 

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I agree with Georgie in the article that some health food cafes can be quite pricey. Many of the foods they offer are delicious, nourishing and packed full of powders and elixirs promoted as superfoods. But these foods are not the basis of eating a balanced wholefood diet. Just as much as regular treats  and eating out shouldn’t make up a healthy balanced diet. These kinds of healthy treats are much more nutritious than regular treat foods, but they are still ‘extras’ used to keep things interesting, add new flavours, textures and potentially some nutritional support if required eg maca powder for hormone balance.

 In fairness to Aboutlife Café, they also have an entire range of delicious salads, savoury meals, and small treats that are just as ‘pricey’ as any other “normal” café and they are organic! The food is filling, you feel energized, and regardless of what savoury dish you choose, you’ll end up with at least 2 serves of veggies! Nothing to complain about there!

Georgie also has some great tips for eating healthy on a budget – these were my favourites:

Choose produce not packages

The cheapest, most nutrient-dense foods live in the fresh produce aisle. When you shift away from highly processed carbohydrates and sugar-filled foods towards vegetables and protein, your appetite will naturally diminish. “If you would really like to have a high-kilojoule food, buy the smallest amount that will satisfy you, the best quality you can afford and eat it slowly, savouring it with all your senses,” recommends EatforHealth.gov.au.

Eat in season

Find out what's in season and live off that. The trick to buying posh produce like strawberries and asparagus at a reasonable price is to get them during their local growing season. Shop your local farmers market for seasonal savings.

Become a mindful shopper

Try making grocery shopping an experience, not a chore. Think of yourself as hunting and gathering the foods that are going to nourish your families' minds and bodies. Seek out the bulk aisle for nuts, seeds and specialty items like quinoa on the cheap, and check out the frozen section for vegetables and fruits, particularly berries.

Turn your freezer into a takeaway

Cooking meals in large batches and freezing the leftovers for later can save you a lot of time and money. “Instead of buying fast food or eating out, it's more cost effective, time-saving and healthy to pull something out of the freezer and heat it up,” says Rist.

If you have any tips of your own, feel free to share in the comments or on Facebook!

Enjoy being you, 

L x