Since January of this year my family and I have made a concerted effort to eat healthier and schedule more activities into our daily lives. The point of all of this wasn’t to majorly change our lives, lose hundreds of pounds, and become all-star athletes, but rather to live a more active lifestyle that incorporated family time and better choices in our menu planning.
We typically eat out at least once a week on the weekend as our family fun night or date night but during the week we prepare home cooked meals. We find it a time of family togetherness and faster/easier to do than running through somewhere to pick up a meal. The girls do homework and we prepare dinner. Of course, if extra-curricular activities are involved we do sometimes have to eat on the run. We just try not to make that a habit.
The very first thing that my husband and I thought about was the impact that this new way of shopping and meal planning would have on our budget. We buckled down and allotted an extra $50 a week to our grocery allowance.
We will both admit that initial trial period of figuring out what our family would eat consistently and trying new recipes and foods was a bit expensive. Once we settled into a rotation though, we have worked our way back down to our original budget.
Since, we have lost a combined total of 40 lbs. We have discovered that every meal does not have to include a starch or carb, every night doesn’t have to end with a calorie-ridden dessert (there are healthy options!), and we can even have some fun with meatless Monday. Our dogs are also loving our nightly walks and it’s a great time to unwind and talk about our day.
We get many questions about what we’re doing because it doesn’t seem like we have given up too much in order to attain the results we have attained. Just like we thought when we started, one of the most common questions is about the cost of eating healthier.
A recent study concludes that eating a healthier diet of fruits, vegetables, and fish vs. an unhealthy diet full of processed foods, meats, and grains will cost you $550 per year.
There are many contradicting viewpoints out there on this topic and I truly think that it depends – just like everything else – on how you shop and what/how much you purchase. Meal planning can take you a long way in the savings arena.
A few tips to help you offset the cost of spending most of your time in the organics and produce aisles:
• Make more plant-based meals – vegetable soups or black-bean burgers are great options.
• Learn to cook/bake things on your own – from granola bars to fresh baked bread there are a ton of homemade options out there that are much cheaper than the store bought.
• Watch portion size – if adding a meat or grain to dinner keep your portions to standards and throw in a much less expensive vegetable to fill the plate.
• Grow your own, join a co-op, or frequent your Farmer’s market.
• Make friends with your freezer – fresh veggies that you’ve frozen work just as well in recipes as they did when they were first picked.
• Use coupons – as the organic/healthy food movement strengthens more sales and coupons are coming available. Check out www.simpletruth.com, www.organicdeals.com, or this very informative article on Fabulessly Frugal with many options on saving for healthy eating including a “super secret” zip code to use on coupon sites to find more organic coupons.
There is one more thing you should consider. Though $550 could be a chunk of your budget to pay out in groceries, consider the alternative of it having to be budgeted towards future health care costs and the alternative of a reduced quality of life. When you look at it that way, making a small adjustment – like meatless Monday – doesn’t look like such a bad option.
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.