18 Ways to Eat Organic and Healthy on the Cheap

Did you know that you can eat a healthy, organic diet on a tight budget? As a frugal shopper myself, I have seen how it can be done. Today I am going to share with 4 rules we live by when it comes to eating healthy as well as 18 different foods you can eat organically that will be healthy and won’t drain your wallet.

First things first…

Rules:

Eat at home: Meals in restaurants are not only pricey but they usually don’t contain the best ingredients. By learning how to cook a few staple, easy and cheap meals, you can save a boat load of money.

Eat seasonally: If you can find foods that are in season that you enjoy, then buy those. They are always cheaper than their imported neighbours.

Eat less meat: Now, most of you know that I am a vegetarian and may think I am suggesting this because of a plot I have to convert the world. That is not true. I am saying to eat less meat because it is very expensive. It is one of the most expensive items if not the most expensive items you will have in your shopping cart. Plus, too many of us eat too much of it which isn’t good for our health. Meat can be responsible for high cholesterol, heart attack, and cancer. Instead, shift your sources of protein to vegetarian options such as beans, lentils, and whole grains.

Eat smaller portions:  Think about this, if you cut your caloric intake per day by 5%, you would in theory cut your food budget by 5%. Plus you might just lose 5% of those pounds that you have been trying to get rid of for ages. Smaller portions and frequent eating are two ways you can drastically improve your health.

Next, 18 frugal foods that are healthy, organic, and best of all cheap.

Cabbages: They are high in cancer preventative compounds and come in numerous varieties so you can use them in a bunch of dishes. Try red cabbage for a cream free coleslaw and bok choy for an Asian stirfry.

Broccoli: Broccoli is one the best vegetables you can take time to eat. It is so high in many of the nutrients your body needs such as Vitamin A and D. Plus  you can pretty much get it all year long for a cheap price.

Kale: Kale is very nutrient dense and a little can go a long way. You can use it for salads or in pasta sauces. You can even blend it in smoothies. Other leafy greens such as spinach, turnip tops, and beet tops are just as good for you.

Carrots: These orange gems are loaded with beta-carotene and fiber. They are also high in Vitamin A and K. They are very easy to pack and take on the go and very versatile to cook with. We literally consume carrots every day in our house.

Bananas: Many of us grew up on these sweet treats. They are always cheap to buy in bunches and work great as a quick snack.

Apples: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. There are so many different varieties of apples out there that no matter what you like; juicy, crunchy, soft, tart, etc. you can get an apple to match your tastebuds. Apples are a great source of fiber and phytonutrients.

Onions: Onions are very good for you blood and high in Vitamin C. They sweeten when you cook them and are available in a variety of sizes and colours. Their cousins Garlic and Ginger are also healthy compliments.

Sweet potatoes: Are also high in beta carotene. They have a lower glycemic index (takes longer for your body to process the sugars) than regular potatoes to they last you longer. They can be used in purees, soups, sauces, or just diced and baked.

Beans: These little guys are one of my favourites. They come in such a variety of colours and sizes that they look make any dish look just gorgeous. They are also high in protein, fiber, and lysine. Buy dried beans and cook them up in batches and then freeze them. That way you have them ready when you need them. Plus you limit the salt and preservatives that you would normally find in cans.

Nuts: This snack is high in protein and healthy fat but you need to limit your portions because they are calorie dense. An ounce of nuts a day is considered a healthy amount. Nuts work great as a snack on the run. They can stop you from buying junk.  Buy them in bulk when they are on sale and throw them in your freezer. This stops them from going rancid. Plus since you eat them in small quantities, one bag can last you a really long time.

Seeds: These are also high in nutrients. Pumpkin seeds are high in iron and magnesium. It is best to eat them raw and unsalted but if you prefer you can roast them in your oven for an added crunch.

Brown rice: This is by far the cheapest grain to buy if you have to eat gluten free. It now comes in many forms such as crackers, pasta, or cereal. It is high in fiber and protein.

Peanut butter: I know there is an issue with it in schools but you can still eat it at home. Peanut butter is high in monounsaturated fats and high in protein. Make sure to buy natural, unsalted, and unsweetened to get the best nutrient punch for your buck. Store it in your fridge to make it last.

Ground beef: Now we don’t eat it in our house, but if you use it in your’s as a main ingredient be sure to buy grass fed and organic varieties. This is the healthiest option.

Chicken: Make sure to also buy it organic and free range. Chicken fryers are great because you can use the entire bird for numerous meals throughout the week. Makes meal planning simple.

Olive oil: This is a staple in our house. Not only does it have such great flavour, it is also high in healthy fats and antioxidants. You never use that much of it so it costs pennies per serving.

Yogurt: Always buy unsweetened and use fresh fruit to add sweetness. It’s high in calcium and probiotics and is a cheaper option than cheese. It is also lower in fat depending on which variety you buy.

Eggs: Always buy organic eggs from Certified Humane agencies. They are a great source of protein and can cost as little as 50 cents an egg.

So now that I have laid out your grocery list for the next month, are you going to make the effort to eat organic and healthy on the cheap?


Comments

18 Ways to Eat Organic and Healthy on the Cheap — 16 Comments

    • @ SPF Try local producers instead of the supermarket. You can often get a cheaper price when you buy direct. In the summer, try farmers markets. It should make the price a bit easier to swallow.

      The other thing is to ask yourself what price you are willing to pay for your health? How important is it to you? At what cost will you pay to ensure your body is being given optimal nutrition?

  1. Miss T, That’s a good list. Kale is an awesome and underrated green. I might add seed sprouts, that are dead easy to make in simple canning jars and some window screen.
    I’ll have to disagree with you on the meat, you can get very reasonable prices from local farmers if you buy a whole side at one time.

    • @101 Centavos Great idea about the seed sprouts. They are easy to make. The only downside is they don’t have very long shelf life but if you are going to eat them fresh then they are a great option. As far as the meat goes, it really just depends on where you live and what is available to you. In some places, organic meat is hard to come by. If you can find some for a reasonable price by buying in bulk that’s great.

  2. Hi, Miss T,

    I had to read your post, because yesterday I visited my nearest Whole Foods store. I’d planned to try out some healthy cheese, but the cheapest brand available was $9.99 per pound, so I walked out without any cheese. I’m sure the producers are all small operations who deserve a profit for going against the mainstream, so I’m some people are willing to pay such prices.

    I had to laugh at your first rule, “Eat at Home.”

    If you want to eat organic, where else would you eat? I suppose there are organic restaurants in some parts of the country, but none that I know of around here, and I’m sure that’s also true in most of the US.

    The truth is, that organic vegetables and grass fed meat is more expensive than supermarket produce and meat. If it weren’t the supermarkets would happily supply us with organic produce and grass fed meat without us even asking for it, because we buy more food when it’s cheaper and therefore they’d make more money.

    The only way around this is to shop at local farmer’s markets or go straight to the farm. Even then you can’t be 100% certain they never spray pesticides or inject the animals with antibiotics. And there is a cost in extra time spent searching out local suppliers.

    You didn’t mention growing food yourself. Unfortunately, this is expensive in terms of time and labor if not money. And it’s not practical to raise all the fruits and veggies one family wants to eat throughout a full year.

    Still, as you mention, it’s better to eat healthy than cheap. Healthy people are more productive, so they can earn more money. And taking medicine and paying medical bills is much more expensive than paying a few extra dollars for organic foods.

    Excel Trust

    • @ Richard Thanks for the great comment. Yes, supermarkets are part of the problem. They would rather sell a lot of low quality goods then fewer high quality. Sorry you didn’t get to have your cheese. I mentioned the eat at home piece because so many people eat out on a daily basis. Take out food is loaded with fats and preservatives that aren’t good for any of us and very rarely are they ever from organic sources.
      Farmers markets work well for getting local produce but so do CSA’s or community supported agriculture. These are where a group of people buy food from a local farmer for the whole season. We participated in one last year and it worked great. Another option is doing a neighbourhood garden where you share soil and share the produce on it. These are quite popular in some communities.
      Last summer, we grew a ton of our own veggies in pots and we got a lot in return. I still have stuff in my freezer that we are using up. You don’t need to have a ton of space to grow a decent amount of food.
      I agree with your last point whole heartedly. Eating healthy is like investing in our future financially. If we look after ourselves we will spend less money on medical care later which allows us to spend our money on other things.
      Keep up the positive attitude and remember to do the best you can. Society isn’t at a point yet where everyone can be self sustaining.

    • @ Rather Be Shopping That’s awesome. If you can grow your own stuff, that is the best way to go. You know exactly where it came from, what’s in it, and it has no carbon footprint. Good for you for finding a way to eat organic that works for your family.

  3. This is an excellent post. You are so right about eating in restaurants being quite pricey – in addition, you can’t control the ingredients that they use. Homemade is best. Thanks for the tips.

  4. We skip Whole Foods and shop at smaller ‘natural food’ stores like Henry’s, Sprouts or Trader Joes. We are often amazed at the relatively inexpensive produce finds – both traditional and organic. We also buy certain items at farmer’s markets depending on price.

    And kale is so underrated – we love to saute it and eat it as a side. So healthy.

    • @60Kproject. We also try to shop at farmer’s markets. We don’t have a lot of independent stores where we live but we do hit the few that are around. Have you tried Kale chips? They are soooo good.

  5. Hi,

    Good article! However I’ll have to disagree with your statement about meat causing cancer and heart disease. Industrialized meat does this because it has an unnatural amount of omega 6 fats. If you eat free range and organic, you are getting the good balance of omega 3s and 6s.

    • Agreed Vanessa!

      One thing I am not sure of – as I am not educated on the topic – is that when someone has heart issues they are told to cut out red meat as much as possible. Any idea why?

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