Saturday, 8 November 2014

5 Tips for Eating Healthy While on a Budget

I can't explain how hard this part has been. For the last few years, our family has really tried to eat as clean as possible meaning avoiding processed foods and choosing whole foods instead. When you are on a budget, produce is not the cheapest thing you can buy so it makes it really tricky to balance the budget while eating well. Here are a few tips to help:

1. Plant a garden, and grow fruit trees
This is kind of a no-brainer - if you can produce fruits and veggies in your own backyard it will not only be economical but it's obviously way healthier since you control the chemicals and pesticides. And hopefully that means you don't use any! Once you've harvested your crops, you can freeze, can or eat your bounty. And it's cheap! Here is some apple sauce I made with some local crabapples I purchased from someone in our community (we don't have apple trees). I got a huge box for $5. Score!

2. Buy Local
We live in Manitoba which means our growing season is pretty short because it's winter for 6 months of the year. So, why do we live here? Just kidding. I love my home. But it is so exciting once spring arrives and the farmer's markets are open. Buying locally helps your local economy and is better for the environment. And it's fresh and deelicious!

3. Check out what's on sale and buy in season
Every two weeks, I scan the flyers to do our BIG bi-weekly shopping and I will only buy produce that is on sale. Most of the time this means that you are buying produce that is in season. In other words, apples will be cheaper in the fall than in the middle of winter (generally). Again, if you can purchase certain fruit when they are on sale (such as apples), why not freeze or can them so you can enjoy the lower prices all year long?

4. Swap with family and friends
Maybe you have thousands of carrots in your garden and your neighbour has extra raspberries. Why not produce swap? You don't have to grow as many fruits and vegetables but you still get to enjoy a variety of delicious food.

5. Bake at home
It is so easy to make bread at home, especially when you have a bread maker. We try to make a few loaves at a time by using the dough cycle in our machine but forming the loaves ourselves and baking them on a cookie sheet. I can control what I put into our bread and I know it won't contain preservatives. Here is my fail-proof bun/bread recipe from Betty Crocker. I substitute some of the white flour with whole wheat. One recipe makes these two large loaves.

I also make our cookies and muffins at home. These aren't "clean" because they have processed flour and sugar but they are preservative-free. I also have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer and it has been the best gift I ever received. I use mine at least 2 times a week. It makes baking so much easier!

I hope these tips help you plan your grocery budgeting stretch a bit. How do you eat healthy while sticking to a budget?

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