How To Afford Eating Clean, Healthy Food

How to Afford Eating Clean, Healthy Food

The only thing keeping you from getting what you want is the STORY you keep telling yourself about why you can’t have it.” – Tony Robbins.

LIFE IS ABOUT MAKING CHOICES.

Our appearance is important to us – we spend lots of time and money having our nails and hair done, shopping for cosmetics, clothes and accessories.

When we have people over we want our dwelling to be impressive – we carefully choose our furniture and the interior.

When it comes to food, for some reason, we make the poorest choices.

Why?

Are we not concerned with how our body functions? Do we not know about the dangers of not eating healthy? That’s impossible. As we are bombarded with commercials advertising unhealthy food and drinks, so we are insistently reminded of the importance of eating healthy by the media, filmmakers, bloggers and health and fitness professionals.

Yet, we continue eating and drinking cheap junk, packing calories and overloading ourselves with chemicals, carbs and fat that make us sick. 

Eating unhealthy is not an ignorance, it is a choice.

Lets look at our lifestyle choices, at the dynamics of our lives, analyze them and be brutally honest about ourselves and about our choices. Unless we are aware of our problems we can never correct them.  

Awareness is the precursor of deliberate change – Jonathan Fields.

Why do we eat so much processed, packaged unhealthy food?

There are a few reasons.

One of them is the high cost of clean, unprocessed food. Most people name the astronomical prices of natural or organic food as the main reason they can’t afford it.

Can’t argue about that. The produce, meat, fish and poultry are a few times more expensive at health food stores than in regular supermarkets. But let’s continue analyzing our lifestyle choices by looking at the real numbers.

We willingly accumulate debt by buying new cars, huge flat screen TVs, home movie centers and other stuff that is supposed to make us feel good, and then pay through the nose for it.

The average credit card debt per U.S. household is $15,270.

The average monthly payment for a new car loan in 2014 is $471/month. 

Americans spend ridiculously massive amounts of money on holiday celebrations.

The average American spent $700 on Christmas gifts in 2014 and $77 per person on Halloween candy, costumes and decorations. 

According to a recent survey of American workers by Accounting Principals, Americans who regularly buy coffee throughout the week spend on average, $1,092 on coffee annually. On eating their lunches out, American people spend on average $1,200 a year. 

Looking at these numbers, you can see that there IS a way to carve out the money for buying fresh, clean and occasionally organic food by making smart choices. I do not suggest you restrain yourself from buying new clothes or catching up with friends at the coffee shop; deny yourself simple pleasures of life, or stop celebrating holidays. 

What I do suggest is to reconsider your spending habits.

Make a list of your monthly expenses and make significant changes. Save money whenever possible. Instead of buying an expensive, new car, buy a used one, for which you’ll pay lesser monthly payments and the insurance.

Change your mindset with regard to food choices as well. Instead of buying your lunch out, bring your own to work. Stop eating highly processed snack. By the way, if you perform a simple price comparison, you will see that, pound for pound, some items are way more expensive than the real fresh food.

A bag of chips, usually 11-13oz in weight, costs $2.50-3.00. That’s $3.69 per pound. It won’t buy you a grass-fed chicken but you could buy 2 pounds of conventional chicken and some veggies, and make a few meals for the whole family.

How about beef jerky? When the customers yank the bag of 5oz jerky from the snack stand at the line to cash register, do you think they realize they buy it at $16-20lb? A dinky bag for the price of a few pounds of grass fed beef we complain we can’t afford?

Is it our limited buying capabilities or a crooked mindset?

5 years ago, I bought a faux Christmas tree. First time ever. It was tall, gorgeous tree the cost me $78. The same real tree would cost me around $60. Bringing the real tree home and setting it up is a hassle, which I don’t have to deal now. The artificial tree doesn’t have that wonderful pine scent but I save time and money every year and have a positive impact on the environment.

Spend $60 dollars you could save on the tree for healthy food for your Christmas dinner.

A few more facts about our unnecessary spending.

Did you know the average American loses almost $400 per year to gambling?

According to the National Resources Defense Council, Americans waste $529 per person each year. Be very careful with your food, try to bring the waste to the minimum. Cooking your own meals will make you appreciate food more and be mindful of how you use it.

Another way you could afford eating clean, natural or organic food is by starting a buying club. Team up with your relatives, friends, co-workers and neighbors to place wholesale orders and then split them between the members. This might be an informal or registered buying club. Here is the information on how to register buying club. Connect with your local farmers and growers, visit their booth at the farmer’s markets in your town. You can negotiate good deals and pick up from the location or have it delivered. There are lots of great deals online too.

Another reasons people eat lots of processed and packaged food are: “Don’t have time to cook” and “Can’t cook”. These are nothing but excuses, don’t you think? I’m not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings, we simply agreed to be brutally honest about ourselves, remember?

There is a basic human fear behind “I can’t cook” excuse. Not a big problem, and it’s correctable. There are hundreds of instructional cooking videos online, and cooking classes in your local adult school or community center. Ask your family members, friends or, perhaps, church ladies for help. They won’t turn you down. Start with simple recipes, increase the difficulty level when you feel more confident. My husband and I taught our sons to cook when they were kids. I know you can do it! Sorry, no more “can’t cook” excuses.

I don’t have time” does not apply to you unless you are a single parent working 2 jobs, or study and work full time, or work and take care of the sick relative, or anything among those lines.

NOBODY IS TOO BUSY, IT’S JUST THE MATTER OF PRIORITIES.

How to Find the Time to Cook at Home.

1. Prioritize. Measure all the activities you are involved in against the well-being of your family and if they don’t bring value to your life, dump them.

2. Make dinner a family activity. Before you do that, talk to your husband and kids about the necessity to make some food changes. Explain to your kids the importance of eating clean, unprocessed, wholesome food. Delegate some of the prepping to them. Not only will they learn new skill, most importantly, they will learn about nutrition from the young age. Cook to your favorite music, make it fun, create an atmosphere of unity. Extra bonus of this activity, ladies: cleaning is the joined effort as well.

3. Batch cook. Batch cooking is preparing some of all of your meals for a few days on 1 day. Usually it is Saturday or Sunday, or any week day when you are off  work. It saves time from cooking and cleaning your kitchen on a daily basis, leaves you more time in the evening for family activities or just to relax.

4. Make freezer meals. I will choose freshly made meal over frozen any time, but between frozen and fast food, I’d definitely choose frozen homemade food. If you work full-time and this is the only way you can afford eating homemade food, go for it. Google healthy “freezer friendly meals”, there are plenty of resources.

 

Take time to think about your life, your lifestyle, your priorities. Let’s reconsider our choices and make smart, conscious decisions about things that matter to us the most: our health and the welfare of our family. Let’s be proactive about it.

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Anna is a happy wife, mother and a health enthusiast. She runs a blog www.leanhappiness.com. She likes to share her experience of naturally healing the digestive problems in her childhood with people who want to switch to a healthy lifestyle.