By Lauren Denos: 8/19/2014 (Nutrition)

One thing that you may hear said way too often is that eating healthy is so expensive, and you may say it yourself. Well, it does not have to be expensive.

One of the reasons many people think it is expensive to eat healthy because they are told that in order to eat healthy, it has to be non GMO, organic, grass fed, omega enriched, locally grown etc. It is not that these things are not good, but you do not have to eat organic, non GMO, etc to eat healthy. Start with what you can afford.

What you choose maybe not the healthiest option available but can still be a healthier way. Lets look at your protein choices. You may think that you need to eat the organic skinless chicken breasts, but if you are on a really tight budget that may just not be feasible. Heck, even ordinary chicken breast may be above you budget. So go with what you can get, can you afford the regular foster farms drumsticks or chicken thighs? They are usually only a few dollars per package. Yes, drumsticks and thighs are dark meat and therefore not as lean, but it sure beats getting a cheap hamburger and fries.

If you are a beef-eater and cannot afford the organic, grass feed, lean ground beef, then get the normal ground beef and drain all the oil out of it after it is cooked. If you want to do some lean steaks sometimes, it is less expensive to get a roast and slice up the steaks yourself.

Fish is known as one of the healthiest options, salmon is a top pick for fish but not super cheap, instead see if you can go for some tilapia or cod. Keep your eyes open for the sales. Stock up on all the healthy meats that usually cost a lot more when you find a sale.

As far as your carbohydrates go, many people eat white bread, pasta and white rice, which is all stuff we know are fast acting carbohydrates, which are not a great choice. Many people eat these because they are cheap; there are healthier and cheaper options. What we should eat are complex carbohydrates because they give sustained energy rather than quick fix energy. So lets look at some healthy, inexpensive complex carbohydrate options.

Many people think of beans as a protein, and while they do have some protein in them, they are mostly a carbohydrate. The great thing about beans is they are high in fiber, and go a long way. Just put them in a crock-pot and let them cook for the day. This way they do not take any extra work from you, just leave them to do their thing.

Grains are also very fiber rich. Some good examples of carbohydrates in the grain section:

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Wheat berries
  • Buckwheat goats
  • Whole barley
  • Old fashioned, steel cut or Irish oats (not the quick cooking oats)

You'll notice that all of these are in their whole form. Not breads or pasta's etc. When in their whole form they are a much better choice, and cheaper for the volume you get. Now if you absolutely need to eat bread or pasta then get the best choice available to you. Go for the dense, heavy breads or the whole grain pasta's. But if healthy is what you are looking for, aim for the whole, unrefined grains.

Other great sources of carbohydrates are starchy vegetables:

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Squash (except zucchini and summer squash)
  • Corn
  • Parsnips

All vegetables have some carbohydrates in them, but the starchy vegetables are much higher in them than most. Many people have diets in which vegetables are “free to eat” as much as they want, starchy vegetables would not be listed in this category. They would count as a part of your carbohydrate portion.

Time for the vegetables. This is the area that I am sure you have heard the most about when it comes to what you are supposed to do. You may have heard that you must do non-GMO, organic and local or else you should just not eat them at all. If you can afford to get your produce this way that is great, but for many that is not as easy. What happens is people then throw their hands up in the air and say “Well if I cannot afford this super ridiculously healthy way of eating, why bother at all?” however this needs not be the case. Again, we must do what we can. It is better to eat vegetables that do not have all these criteria verses none at all. One thing you can do when you get normal produce is to wash it in equal parts of vinegar and water. This will help remove pesticides from your vegetables. Make sure you get a good variety of green leafy vegetables and other colors. When you are looking at the vegetable portion of your plate, they should be the non-starchy vegetables.

Non-starchy vegetables:

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado (High in fats, keep it in moderation)
  • Amaranth or Chinese spinach
  • Baby corn
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bean sprouts
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chayote
  • Chicory
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Green onions
  • Greens (collard, beet greens, dandelion, mustard, kale, turnip)
  • Hearts of palm
  • Jicama
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peppers (bell peppers and hot peppers)
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Scallions
  • Snow peas
  • Spinach
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Summer squash
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnips
  • Water chestnuts
  • Watercress
  • Yard-long beans
  • Zucchini

If fresh produce is not possible for you to keep around for any reason then aim for frozen. Frozen can actually be a good option since they are picked at their ripeness and then frozen soon after harvesting. The great thing about frozen vegetables is the ability to use the produce when you need it without having any go bad.

The third option is canned vegetables. This is not the ideal option but it is better than not getting your vegetables at all. With canned vegetables, corn and pea's seem to be very popular, but make sure you are also getting the green non-starchy vegetables in.

Vegetables should take up the majority of your plate. They provide essential vitamins, minerals and a lot of healthy fiber, so make sure to stock up your kitchen on these essentials.

If you are one of the many people that has given up on the idea of getting healthier due to expense it is time to reconsider that. As you have seen it can be inexpensive to have a nutritious diet. And when your diet improves everything else does as well. Test this information out and see for yourself.





 

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