How to Eat Healthy (Without Breaking the Bank)
By Laura Hogg
From the FitChatter Blog Series
Welcome back to FitChatter! This week in the news: a new study has shown that eating healthy can actually be cheaper than eating unhealthy! Here are some tips on how you can get the most for your money.
I don’t know about you, but I was pretty stoked about the recent study that confirmed that it is possible to trick yourself into eating healthier. To recap: when you look at pictures of delicious food, your brain fools you into thinking that whatever you’re eating at the time is tastier than it actually is. Awesome, right? Anything to feed my obsession with looking at pretty photos of food!
But unfortunately, that little trick really only does you good if you actually have healthy food on hand to replace the unhealthy stuff. If you look at pictures of cheesecake while you’re eating pie…you’re probably not going to get any results.
But eating healthy is so expensive, you might say – and that has certainly been the prevailing attitude.
However, a new study has revealed that previous measures of the cost of healthy eating have led to misleading conclusions. When comparing prices, most researchers have measured the price per calorie – making the cheap, processed stuff seem like a bargain. But that method is fundamentally flawed, according to scientist and study author Andrea Carlson. "Using price per calorie doesn't tell you how much food you're going to get or how full you are going to feel," she points out. In other words, that chocolate donut may be cheaper and have more calories – but you’d need to eat more of them to satiate yourself as compared to a nutrient-rich, low-calorie fruit.
With this new research in mind, here are a few tips you can use to cut down on calories – and unnecessary spending!
The less processed, the better – right? Well, not always. While fresh fruit spoils quickly and is often pricey, frozen fruit has been picked at the peak of ripeness and can be bought in bulk. And since they can be re-frozen, you don’t have to worry about all that deliciousness going to waste!
Do it yourself
It’s hard to argue with the convenience afforded by food that has already been chopped, sliced, spiced, or otherwise prepared. If all you’re after is the convenience factor, as long as it helps you to eat healthy, then go ahead. But if you’re trying to stretch your dollar a little further, just keep in mind that the extra processing does add up. Try slicing your own produce and making homemade versions of your favorite packaged foods. Veggie burger, anyone?
For bonus points: start a garden! Though it obviously requires a time commitment, the resulting produce will be cheaper and fresher than the store-bought variety – not to mention you’ll know exactly how it was grown.
Eat lower on the food chain
Want protein on a budget? Steer away from the meat aisle and meet your new best friend: dried beans! They’re super easy to prepare, and really are one of the cheapest foods you can buy: one cup of black beans will set you back a whopping 48 cents on average. Not only that – they’re considered superfoods! Why so super? Beans are jam-packed with protein and fiber, which keep you feeling full, allowing you to cut calories without feeling deprived.
The number one way to save on groceries while eating healthier fare? Write up a grocery list, and make sure to eat before you shop. We all know how it goes: you go to the grocery store hungry and without a plan, and the next thing you know you’re aimlessly tossing things into your cart, elbow-deep in a bag of Cheetos. Writing up a list ahead of time allows you to think through your healthy food choices, and if you go when you’re not hungry, you’ll be more likely to stick to your list.