As many people search for ways to cut back on expenses and survive on a shoestring budget, making good nutritional choices are often sacrificed.  Cheap and convenient foods are the ones people are reaching for, instead of more healthy nutritional choices. The winners in this are the producers of those pre-packaged foods and fast-food restaurants pushing their value menus.  The losers are the people who think eating healthy is now a luxury because so many of the better food choices often cost a little more. After all, it can be difficult to justify spending more on healthier food items when you can buy a hamburger, french fries and soft drink for under $4 at fast food joints like McDonalds.

However, my question is can you really “afford” not to spend a little more now if it saves you more money in the end?

We are not going to run down the laundry list of reasons why it is a good idea to eat healthy.  We all know the many benefits.  I will though tell you a big one that is ultimately tied to your pocketbook – health insurance.  What do I mean?  Well, think about it.  If you persist in cutting back on eating healthy, the long-term result may very well be a litany of health concerns such as obesity, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease and diabetes, just to name a few.  These medical conditions are not just life threatening but costly and unfortunately medical insurance if you are lucky to have it, just isn’t covering all the costs associated with these conditions any more.  That means, more money that you will have to pay out of pocket.

So, my question to you, “Is it really worth it to save a little now only to have to spend more later?”  Chances are you will say “No”.  I understand this does not help when you are watching every dime now, but there are steps you can take to still eat healthy and not strain your wallet.  Here’s a few tips to get you started:

Avoid fast food.  It is convenient and cheap, but just one meal can cost you big time in terms of calories and fat ingested, especially if you eat it more than once a week as many people do.

Shop at farmer’s markets and produce stands.  We’re seeing more and more of these types of operations popping up.  They are a great resource for finding fresh, in-season produce that is typically less expensive than what you find in most supermarkets.  Moreover, you can feel good about helping local farmers.

Buy in bulk.  Sam’s Club, Costco and Bulk Barn are great examples of wholesale food stores that offer consumers the ability to buy in bulk.  Items such as brown rice, lentils, beans, pastas, lean meats, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables can be bought for a lot less and stored or frozen for later use.

Think big.  When cooking a meal, make a little extra to use for lunches or to freeze.  Soups and casseroles are always easy, filling and definitely more nutritional than most fast food menu options.

Vitamins and supplements.  If you find you just cannot eat healthy all the time and must cut back on fresh fruits and vegetables, think about taking a good multivitamin that can fill in the nutritional gaps.

These may be difficult times and trying to eat a well-balanced, nutritional diet can seem challenging, but it definitely is not impossible.  It may require a little more effort, time and creativity on your part, but the long-term savings definitely make it worthwhile.

Your friends at Socially Fit

  1. Great article!!! I’ve been battling this myself. Especially since going meatless in my diet. I’m pretty low on finances, but I feel so much better eating healthier. It sucks that healthy foods are more expensive. Another great tip: IF you live in a are with sprouts (formerly sunflower market) they run both ads from the previous week and the new week on wednesday; so you can get extra good deals. Plus sprouts carries cheap, fresh, organic produce. I’m also glad that as the weather warms up, more farmers markets open up!

    • I’m also meatless, though I do eat fish on occasion. I’d love to create a green wall in my kitchen and instead of green plants, I’d have fresh herbs and sprouts growing all year long! It’s officially my “spring/summer” project. I live next to the St. Lawrence Market so I get the wonderful opportunity to meet and get to know our local farmers. Once you’ve committed to eating well, there really isn’t another option. It really is quite manageable once you’ve applied a couple of the tips mentioned here.

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