What was the last cheap meal you had? A slice of pizza? Big Mac combo? Frozen microwave dinner?
While these are all inexpensive options, they aren’t exactly healthy. Why don’t we associate a cheap meal with something that’s also good for us?
There’s a belief that healthy also means expensive but it isn’t necessarily true. Healthy foods don’t have to break the bank, in fact, it’s totally possible to eat a wholesome, satisfying meal on a tight budget.
I had the pleasure of doing a fun Q&A session with Danielle Zies on eating healthy on a budget. Danielle is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Stress Management Coach in Toronto and encourages good nutrition as one of the many ways to ensure balance in our health. She shares her grocery shopping tips and thoughts on buying organic with me below.
Ice-breaker question! What 90’s pop song best represents you and why?
Smooth by Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas because it reminds me of one of my all time favourite things – almond butter.
Walk me through what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner yesterday. How much did each portion cost approximately?
Breakfast: 2 poached eggs on a bowl of greens, avocado and tomato with some hot sauce. $3.50
Lunch: Salad with lentils and seeds wrapped in a sprouted whole grain wrap with some olive oil and spicy mustard. $4
Dinner: Chicken with broccoli, a handful of nuts, and some chopped greens on quinoa. $7
What are the biggest mistakes people can make to save money on food?
Buying processed, pre-made things. They are so expensive! Not only will you save your money by making your own meals but you will also do great things for your health. Processed foods are filled with refined products, sugar, GMO’s and often rancid oils that are harmful for your body.
Time is money. You will save your self a ton of time, energy and hassle by planning and prepping ahead.
Tip: Try cooking a big pot of quinoa or brown rice at the beginning of the week. You could also hard boil some eggs, wash and chop some veggies, and make some hummus so that everything is good to go when you need it. This makes it much easier to throw a healthy salad, stir fry or quick snack together or to grab something on-the-go from your fridge.
Sticking to an all-organic diet can be expensive. Are there certain organic foods that aren’t worth the splurge?
When it comes to meat, eggs and dairy – go free run and organic.
When it comes to produce, apples, celery, greens and berries are top of the list when it comes to pesticide amounts. Always go organic with these items.
We all know you shouldn’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Any other tips to stay on track and on budget while at the grocery store?
Planning is key. Pick recipes you want to try for the week ahead of time and make a list of the things you need. Once you’ve made your list, stick to it. This will also help ensure you stick to your budget.
Be creative. How you can make your food go further for you? There are many different and delicious combinations that you can create out of a few simple ingredients. For example, I often bake a few sweet potatoes at the beginning of the week because they make a hearty addition to a salad, as a perfect side, or can be blended with some spices and coconut to make a quick soup after work. The list goes on but you get the idea!
Shop seasonally and locally as much as possible. You will pay the price for imported, out of season produce. Eat with the seasons and don’t stick to the same items all the time. This will force a beneficial variety in your diet and will also be easier on your wallet.
Remember: you vote with your dollar. You can choose to support big corporate agriculture, genetically modified crops and their patent holders (Monsanto) or you choose to support local farmers with sustainable farming practices. I strongly encourage you to check out your local farmers market and connect with your community. It’s fun, delicious and your food will be more nutritious. Find one near you here.
Danielle Zies is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Stress Management Coach. She encourages stress free lives in and out of the kitchen. Her unique approach to wellness stems with focusing on root causes and guiding clients towards supporting, re-balancing and healing themselves using appropriate physical, emotional and lifestyle nutrition.