Health costs less than $1 a meal

Healthy Foods That Are Under $1
I’m often surprised at the prices people are willing to pay for boxes of breakfast cereals that are full of nothing more than sugar, or for bags of chips that offer nothing good for your body whatsoever. And don’t get me started on soda and all the other sugary drinks that flood our stores. In short, they are an absolute health disaster!
These pricey processed foods will eat up your grocery budget in the blink of an eye, and will cause disease in the long-term. In reality, any money spent on junk food is a waste, and purging these items from your grocery list is the first step to eating right on a budget.
Some of the healthiest foods are incredibly affordable, even under $1 a serving, such as:
  • Raw organic milk
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Two cage-free organic eggs
  • Avocado, berries and broccoli
  • Fermented foods you make at home
Getting back to the original question, is it possible to eat healthy even on a very limited budget, I believe it can be – if you keep these foundational rules in mind…

8 Tips for Stretching Your Food Budget and Still Eating Real Food

In order to protect your health, I believe you should spend 90 percent of your food budget on whole foods, and only 10 percent on processed foods (unfortunately most Americans currently do the opposite). This requires some strategy, especially if you’re working with a tight budget:
  1. Identify a Person to Prepare Meals. Someone has to invest some time in the kitchen. It will be necessary for either you, your spouse, some other family member or someone you pay to prepare the meals from locally-grown healthful foods.
  2. Become resourceful: This is an area where your grandmother can be a wealth of information, as how to use up every morsel of food and stretch out a good meal was common knowledge to generations past. Seek to get back to the basics of cooking – using the bones from a roast chicken to make stock for a pot of soup, extending a Sunday roast to use for weekday dinners, learning how to make hearty stews from inexpensive cuts of meat, using up leftovers and so on.
  3. Plan your meals: If you fail to plan you are planning to fail. This is essential, as you will need to be prepared for mealtimes in advance to be successful. Ideally this will involve scouting out your local farmer’s markets for in-season produce that is priced to sell, and planning your meals accordingly, but you can also use this same premise with supermarket sales.
    You can generally plan a week of meals at a time, make sure you have all ingredients necessary on hand, and then do any prep work you can ahead of time so that dinner is easy to prepare if you’re short on time in the evenings.
    It is no mystery that you will be eating lunch around noon every day so rather than rely on fast food at work, before you go to bed make a plan as to what you are going to take to work the next day. This is a marvelous simple strategy that will let you eat healthier, especially it you take healthy food from home in to work.
  4. Avoid food waste: According to a study published in the journal PloS One,4 Americans waste an estimated 1,400 calories of food per person, each and every day. The two steps above will help you to mitigate food waste in your home. You may also have seen my article titled 14 Ways to Save Money on Groceries. Among those tips are suggestions for keeping your groceries fresher, longer, and I suggest reviewing those tips now.
  5. Buy organic animal foods. The most important foods to buy organic are animal, not vegetable, products (meat, eggs, butter, etc.), because animal foods tend to concentrate pesticides in higher amounts. If you cannot afford to buy all of your food organic, opt for organic animal foods first.
  6. Keep costs down on grass-fed beef. Pasture-finished beef is far healthier than grain-fed beef (which I don’t recommend consuming). To keep cost down, look for inexpensive roasts or ground meat. You may also save money by buying an entire side of beef (or splitting one with two or three other families), if you have enough freezer space to store it.
  7. Buy in bulk when non-perishable items go on sale. If you are fortunate to live near a buyer’s club or a co-op, you may also be able to take advantage of buying by the pound from bins, saving both you and the supplier the cost of expensive packaging.
  8. Frequent farmer’s market. You may be surprised to find out that by going directly to the source you can get amazingly healthy, locally-grown, organic food for less than you can find at your supermarket. This gives you the best of both worlds: food that is grown near to you, cutting down on its carbon footprint and giving you optimal freshness, as well as grown without chemicals, genetically modified seeds, and other potential toxins.
    Just as restaurants are able to keep their costs down by getting food directly from a supplier, you, too, can take advantage of a direct farm-to-consumer relationship, either on an individual basis or by joining a food coop in your area. Many farmer’s markets are now accepting food stamps, so this is an opportunity most everyone can join in on.
While the film Food Stamped doesn’t spell out these steps, it’s clear that filmmakers Shira and Yoav Potash exerted considerable effort in the planning and preparation of their meals. The point for them was not to score an A+ on their nutrition report card (revealed at the end of the film), but instead to take audiences on an entertaining and highly informative journey. For that, they do deserve an A+.
While their trek began at the intersection of the economic recession and the obesity epidemic, it never really ends. Instead, it weaves its way into your grocery list and your own thoughts about what you consume. While there have been many films that explore food and health issues, Food Stamped does so with freshness, intelligence, and an appropriate sense of both humor and hope. In the face of a multi-billion dollar processed food industry, this low-budget documentary packs both a punch and a crunch. I highly recommend it. 

The Tap Blog is a collective of like-minded researchers and writers who’ve joined forces to distribute information and voice opinions avoided by the world’s media.

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