How to eat healthy on a budget
How to eat healthy on a budget is a tough question. It’s very multi-angled puzzle. My point to make is holistic. I think that the cheapest way to eat healthy is to avoid expensive hospital expenses. Going to McDonald’s short term cheap eating.
Best way to eat healthy when money is low, is to adjust more from your related budget to good foods. Try find some secondary ways to save money. Cut HBO, Netflix and magazines for some time. Find way to pay less for your mobile and Internet. Find cheaper bank for your loan. With these adjustments you may be able to buy a week worth of food. All this “nay-saying” here doesn’t mean that eating healthy will break your bank. Nono, but when money is strict you should still try to find way to save. In my opinion, investing in good food is saving.
Daddy has spoken. Now let’s dive into what’s interesting:
Things to eat when you’re on a budget:
Eggs are cheap, tasty, easy to prepare and they’re amazing source of nutrition. Eggs are filled with healthy fats and they hold a very nice amino acid pool to fuel your body. Eggs are good source for some b-group vitamins and selenium.
€2.35 ($2.60) per ten free range (high quality) eggs straight from the producer. I eat around three eggs per day.
€0.70 ($0.76) / day
Shout out to Mikko and the great Vaahteramäki Farming!
Veggies as frozen food products are almost just as good as the fresh thing. No minerals or vitamins are compromised when vegetables are flash frozen. It’s debated that some enzyme factors may be destroyed when the produce is frozen. Be that as it may, frozen veggies are great and affordable healthy food.
I devour easily one bag of veggies a day. Sometimes I buy organic veggies which are little bit more expensive (€2.89 / 750 g). Organic or not, they are healthy choice
€1.99 ($2.20) / 750 g (1.65 lbs)
€2 ($2.20) / day
Vegetables does not contain too much calories but they do give you loads of minerals, vitamins and fiber.
Chicken, turkey, ground beef
For protein you can actually choose cheap meats as long as they are lean meats like chicken and turkey. Clean, unprocessed protein is usually very good, free of toxins food. If your meat contains more fats, then it’s another story.
If you choose to eat beef or other fatty meats, like ground beef, cuts from beef or pork, you should always go with organic, pastured version. All animals, people included tend to storage toxins in their fat tissues. This means that if you eat 20 % fat minced meat from a sick, antibiotic fed, pen stock, you’ll be ingesting lots of the toxins that this poor animal use to hold in her fatty, force fed body.
On another hand, organic, grass fed, fatty slice of beef is very good for you.
Chicken €7.90 / kg
Turkey €12.90 / kg
Grass fed ground beef €13.90 / kg (17 %)
I eat about 400 g of meat / day
~€4 ($4.40) / day
Organ meats: liver, kidneys, hearth, tongue
Organ meats once a week is a good idea. They contain loads of good nutrients including minerals and vitamins. Especially beef liver is filled with vitamin-A, vitamin-B’s, iron, copper and selenium. All these nutrients are in the most bio-active form possible. Kidneys are another power house of food. They contains high amount of vitamin-B’s and selenium. Kidneys should be washed well before preparing. If you can get past the smell of kidneys while cooking, you have yourself a cheap, highly nutrition dense meal. From these two I prefer liver from a grass fed animal.
Hearth and tongue are like cheap alternatives for culinary cuts of meat like entrecôte, sirloin and tenderloin.
Organ meats prices vary from €5-9 / kg so it’s cheaper to eat organ meats than lean meats.
Organ meats own one of the highest price/nutrition -ratio out of all eats.
Canned sardines, canned mackerels, canned tuna
Canned foods should be avoided most of the time just because they’re not the best choice. Sometimes you just can find these items for very (too) cheap price. €1 for 100 g (a. 65 g of fish) is a bargain that should be jump on to. For a little amount of money you can have a tasty meal with full of nutrients. Alloys found from canned foods are so small in amount that consuming these time to time is probably not that harmful.
Sardines and mackerels are world class source of omega-3 fats and tuna is amazing source for protein. I usually just eat the fish and toss the low quality oil or the sauce.
€15.50 / kg the fish content
White rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, oatmeal
Vegetables should be the main filler on the plate but there is time and place for good, clean carbohydrates. You don’t practically need to eat carbs as body can form them itself, but sometimes you can deplete your bodies natural glucose levels with exercise or other activities. Everybody who’s training hard at the gym should have moderate carbohydrate intake.
If you’re not big on heavy training and your exercise of choice is walking or something light, you can consider going on a low-carb diet. This can be very beneficial in health wise. I just have one notion to all low-carbers out there, the lining in your gut needs starchy carbs to be healthy! You should not go 100 % low-carb, all the time. You should absolute have a refill in carbs once a week. This will not destroy your weight-loss goals and it will fortify your health.
I time carbs always prior to exercise. I might have two good carb meals on a lunch and diner before gym workout or grappling training. Goal is to feed my body the carbs “as needed” basis. I do my walks and movement training with out carb preloading. For this type of exercise I rather use ketone bodies to fuel my body as much as possible.
€3 / kg quality basmati or jasmin rice (least arsenic)
€4 / kg sweet potatoes
€1.50 / kg potatoes
€2 / kg oatmeal
200 grams (rice and oatmeal cooked weight) of these carbs are enough for one day.
€0.20-1 ($0.22-1.10) / day
organic butter, organic virgin olive oil, organic virgin coconut oil, avocados, hemp oil and fish oil
When veggies doesn’t contain many calories, protein sources are expensive and carbs should be avoided in huge amounts…, where to get the calories then? The answer is high quality fats.
As it’s often viewed that eating fat makes you fat, this highly affordable and nutrition rich macro nutrient group is often overlooked as an energy source. Eating fat makes you fat -claim couldn’t be further from truth. There’s no known mechanism in human body to turn dietary fat straight into fat.
Human fat cells seems to convert mostly blood sugar into fat. Turning dietary fat into glucose is a slow process, so eating fat hardly increase your blood sugar, so it’s highly unlikely to get fat from eating fat. On another hand if you consume carbohydrates along with fat – hamburgers, chips, french fries or just plain old home feed with rice or potatoes accompanied with high fat gravy – you’ll get fat.
When carbs and fats are combined, your body, especially your liver can easily get over burdened with useful energy units and it’s forced to overload your blood stream with glucose. Once your liver and muscles are full of glucose, this excess glucose in your blood have no another place to go other than your fat cells.
Eat organic butter, organic virgin olive oil, organic virgin coconut oil, avocados, hemp oil and fish oil every day! It’s easy to get good amount of energy from these fats. I enjoy anything from 50-75% calories from fat. Let’s say I consume 3000 kcal so I have typically 1500-2000 kcal from fat. You’ll see that eating this way doesn’t mean that everything you eat is just floating in a pool of oil. Far from it, eating this way is just delicious!
Fats and oils have 9 kcal/g vs. 4 kcal/g in carbs and protein. This means that my 1500 kcal from fat comes from around 75 grams of grass fed butter/coconut oil, 0,75 d of different oils and from other sources like eggs, meat, avocados and nuts. It’s not that big of an amount to easily hide in dressing, sauce or just plain butter with beef and veggies.
€1.99 / 250 g grass fed butter
€3.80 / 750 g avocados
€16.90 / 1 kg coconut oil
€13.80 / 1 l olive oil
€11.25 / 0.25 l hemp oil
Daily expenses for oils and fats:
€0.85 for coconut oil
€0.50 for butter
€0.70 for olive oil
€0.10 for fish oil
€0.65 for avocado
€0.70 for hemp oil
=€3.60 ($3.90) / day
The most expensive oil is hemp oil and that you should take about one table spoon per day. It’s more like a supplement than a food item.
Vitamins, minerals and other supplements
Eating on a budget may lead to that you eat less of high quality food. It’s a good idea to supplement with the vitamins and minerals. Supplements are not the magic bullet to get rid of all your health issues, but you can benefits from supplements in couple of different ways. Either the supps can be the tip of the ice berg when looking for the peak performance. Or in this case supplementation is the very base of that ice berg. Supplementing can be kind of a life insurance to keep the vitamin and mineral levels afloat during the winter of your life.
I suggest that you’ll take action on this front and order the great eight of supplements. If you’re iHerb first time customer you’ll get these eight supplements not $54 but for $40.50 when you use the coupon code XEB122 at iHerb.com store. Read more about iHerb coupon code (or Finnish: iHerb Alennuskoodi)
These eight products last for about 75 days so it makes them to cost you €0.55 / day. This is a small amount to ensure that your vitamin and mineral levels stay healthy.
Vitamins and minerals, 3 eggs, veggies with coconut, olive oil and organic butter = €2.60 and ~650 kcal
Chicken salad with dressing made from above oils and vinegar = €2.90 and ~650 kcal
Grass fed ground beef, veggies, rice and the good fats = €3.10 and ~1000 kcal
Bed time snack:
Avocado and berries = €0.95 and ~320 kcal
∑ €9.55 for 2320 extremely healthy kcalories. With good fiber, vitamins and minerals!
Food circles: REKO in Finland, AMAP in France, etc…
Find out about your local organic food circles. You can buy high quality products straight from the producer. You’ll receive a better quality product for lower price and the producer wins too. I buy bulk, mixed meat sorts from my local grass fed life stock farm. This way I get to enjoy great cuts of meat for very nice price.
Eating healthy on a budget Take-away:
- Read an article The world’s healthiest foods
- Buy clean, nutrient dense foods
- Frozen veggies are cool
- Get a lot of calories from healthy fats
- Supplement with vitamins and minerals
How to eat healthy on a budget wasn’t so hard question to answer. I think that I can safely say that I have cracked this dilemma. I live and eat by the above guideline 90 % of the time. A sad anecdote is that this article is fueled with Thai food lunch from my friends restaurant and with quality coffee and sugary cake in a fancy Turku café. Well, I can enjoy occasion like this time to time.