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Written by: Kelley Herring, Healing Gourmet

Have you ever thought that it’s just too expensive to eat organic, healthy and sustainable foods? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, the number one reason people say that they don’t eat as healthfully as they should is due to the “high cost.”

Last week, Bernard M. wrote in to U.S. Wellness Meats with this comment:

“When you are a seriously seasoned senior living on a fixed income, it is not possible to live organically. I buy organic as much as I can afford, but not completely. Also it’s hard to know if stuff is legitimately organic. Purchasing online is complex and usually more expensive due to shipping costs.”

While it’s true that eating organic healthy foods can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be. With a little planning and careful selection, you can enjoy the highest quality foods… for roughly the price of a drive-thru meal.

Today, I’ll show you five simple ways to save big on healthy foods and to ensure that you’re getting what you pay for.

#1 – Enjoy Healthy, Budget-Friendly Cuts of Meat

If you’re on a tight budget, filet mignon probably won’t be making a regular appearance at your dinner table. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy delicious, healthy and tender meat dishes.

The key lies in the cut.

Here are three great choices from US Wellness Meats that are sure to please the palette, and are easy on the wallet too.

•    Roasts: Choose budget-friendly roastsbriskets and flatirons to create mouthwatering, low-fuss meals in the slow cooker. Whether you choose grass-fed beef or gourmet pork roasts, you can enjoy these money-saving meats for just $0.50 – $0.70 per ounce. Tender, shredded meats, cooked slow and low, are perfect served over mixed greens for a protein-packed salad, added to easy, baked frittatas, or enjoyed in gluten/grain free wraps and buns for a Paleo sandwich.

•    Grass-Fed Ground Beef: Hearty beef Bolognese, quick and easy stuffed peppers or cabbage leaves, and simple and festive beef “taco” salads are just a few of the delicious recipes you can make on the cheap with this staple. At just $2 per 4-ounce serving, keep grass-fed ground beef on hand for whipping up a delicious penny-pinching meal in minutes.

•    Mock Filet Mignon: For special occasions, use filet mignon’s more budget-friendly cousin: teres major. You’ll get virtually the same succulent, juicy flavor for less than half the price ($2.50/oz. for filet mignon vs. $1.06/oz. for teres major)

#2 – Be Smart with Seafood

While you’ll pay a premium for individual flash-frozen wild fish, sustainable shrimp is a more budget-friendly option. At just $0.90 per ounce, you can enjoy gourmet shrimp dishes like Shrimp Scampi, Shrimp Fra Diavolo, Coconut Shrimp and much more for around $5 per 6-ounce serving.

#3 – Choose Organics… Selectively

While I don’t advocate the use of pesticides (or other agro-chemicals), there are a number of conventional fruits and veggies that you can eat without much concern for pesticide contamination.

Here are the “clean 15” foods found to have low levels of contaminants:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Shelling peas
  • Sweet corn
  • Watermelon

In general, foods with shells (like nuts and seeds) and inedible peels or rinds (like bananas, oranges or mangoes) can be purchased conventionally with little concern for chemical exposure.

While you can save a lot by being selective, you can save even more when you…

#4 – Buy Local and Seasonal

Joining a local CSA or co-op can help you save a bundle on farm-fresh veggies and fruits. Not only will you save money because you are buying direct, but less time from farm-to-table means you’ll get more nutrients too.

In fact, the Institute of Food Research found that up to 45% of nutrients in fresh vegetables are lost by the time they reach your plate!

Check out www.localharvest.org to find CSAs in your area.

#5 – Shop Online

While internet shopping can be overwhelming and sometimes expensive, there are several companies that make it easy – and even offer free (or inexpensive) shipping.

A few places you can find great deals include Vitacost, Amazon and Swanson’s Vitamins. If going the Amazon route, check out their Prime program – if you tend to purchase the same foods you’ll save a lot when you buy in bulk or get on their auto-ship program.

You CAN’T Afford To Not Eat Healthy Foods

Still think you can’t eat healthy on a budget? Consider this:

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, more than 75% of the money spent on health care is spent on chronic conditions including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis.

And yet more than 70% of all chronic conditions are preventable with a healthy diet and lifestyle! When it comes to eating healthy, the truth is that you just can’t afford not to.

To learn how you can save $4,400 on your groceries in the next year (including 100 Organic, Sustainable Foods on the Cheap and 15 Organic Menus for Under $5) pick up my free guide – Eating Clean and Saving GreenClick here to start saving on the healthiest foods today.

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REFERENCES

1.    Average fast food cost for a family of four is $16 or $4/serving. Anna Martin, Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences, Advisor, at the University of California
2.    Savings on food not wastedCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.  Chronic Disease Overview. 
3.    Processed Foods to Blame for Obesity and Chronic Disease, healingsearch.com, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2814253.stm
4.    Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser, p. 120
5.    US Dept of Ag, Ag Economic Research Service
6.    NY Daily News: Frozen Vegetables Are More Nutritious Than Fresh, Study Says; March 5th, 2010.
7.    Supermarket Psychology: How Your Grocery Store Entices you to Spend More, Kelleigh Lewis on March 21, 2011

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