Last week I was having a conversation with someone I recently met and we were talking about healthy eating and the weekly food shopping. (For the record, she has 2 teenagers and a husband) We both agreed that we could definitely bring changes to our diets and implement them more effectively if we involve every member of the family in the process. However, I didn’t agree when she said, “eating healthy is expensive”. If you think eating healthy is achievable only by shopping at the Wholefoods, Fresh Market (or any other equivalent high-end market in other parts of the country or the world), then she might be right. I personally love both stores, there are quality meats, cheeses, vegetables and fruits (among other stuff) and everything looks and smells good. However, there are other options we should consider when we go shopping for healthy food. I want to share some of them here with you (and you can easily find them in local supermarkets).
Buy seasonal fruit and veggies
It sounds obvious but I don’t think many people realize that each season brings abundance of certain fruits and veggies compared to other months of the year. For example, in Miami, being the summer, there are lots of watermelons, mangoes and strawberries. Actually, I think we are blessed in this part of the US because we have a great variety of fruits and vegetables all year round. (Still some fruits are imported) However, for those who live in cooler areas or farther from the equator or in a remote island (I lived in Barbados so I can say this happens in the Caribbean islands) it’s crucial to understand what’s in season so you can buy fresh produce for a reasonable price. Most supermarkets and farmers will tell you what’s in season, normally the produce looks bright and beautiful, it has better flavour and it’s cheaper. Once you identify what you want to buy, plan meals around these food options. In some places, this approach to eating is called sustainable table. If you want to nourish yourself, your family and also care for the planet, this is great way to start. You will be happy to know you are supporting local farmers and you are creating a synchronicity with nature by eating what its offered to us in that specific time of the year.
Experiment with grains
When I was a little girl growing in Colombia, the main grain (and I ate it almost everyday) was white rice. To be fair with my parents, they also fed me oats, corn and barley soup. I only discovered whole grains in my late 20’s and even then, I didn’t really eat whole grains. In my mind, they were only good if one was planning to loose weight (and I wasn’t) so I didn’t see the point in experimenting with these grains. Now that I am older and wiser, I realized I was missing out on the great benefits of grains. Yes, I know some people are gluten intolerant but not all of us are like that. If you are gluten intolerant, skip this section completely. But if you aren’t, grains are a great source of energy, they have been around for thousands of years (most ancient civilizations lived out of corn, quinoa, rice, among others) and they are not expensive. Of course, there are some that may be a bit more costly because they are imported but most of the time, they are reasonably priced. What type of grains? quinoa, amaranth (this one is gluten free), cornmeal, wild rice, brown rice, faro, barley, millet, there’s so many of them. As you embark in this journey, try different spices as well. Normally we tend to use the same spices again and again. Dare to be different, you will be surprised with what you can find.
Cook once eat twice
I am aware not many people enjoy cooking, so my advice is to cook more, divide into separate portions and freeze them. My husband, for example, loves his chilli con carne. When he is inspired to cook it (it takes him a good 2 hours in the kitchen, which he calmly manages with some cold beers) He cooks enough to make five or six portions so he can eat them whenever he pleases. In this way, you know your time in the kitchen is well worth the effort.
I hope with this information I can show you that it isn’t that expensive to eat healthy. Surely, organic is more costly but not every single item you buy has to be organic. If you can afford it, go for it, but if you cant, I still think its better to have a smoothie than a big mac meal. After all, its true that you are what you eat so don’t be easy or fake or cheap.
As I am exploring this path myself, I will also share recipes and tips along the way.
If you are already putting in practice any of these tips and it’s total success, please share it. I would love to know what you are doing.