Priorities. If you made a list of your top ten priorities, where would “living a healthy lifestyle” fit on that list? I’m sure it would probably be somewhere near the top. After all, most of us CrossFit here.
Managing your priorities can be difficult, especially in a tough economy. More specifically, as food costs continues to increase steadily, keeping up your healthy lifestyle and particular eating habits can sometimes be a challenge. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly how to manage your priorities. I can, however, tell you that despite the difficulties, there’s no real reason your commitment to a healthy lifestyle should fall to the wayside when money is tight.
So, you may ask “How can this be achieved?”
It may not always be easy, but paying more for food that contributes to a healthy paleo diet now, could actually end up saving you a ton of money in the future.
Allow me to throw some numbers at you:
- National health care expenditures: On a national level, health care expenditures in the United States totaled more than $1.7 trillion in 2004, a 9.3% increase compared to the previous year, one-seventh of the total U.S economy and larger than the gross national products of most countries in the world (Lundberg 2005).
- Death: Four of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States – coronary heart disease, stroke, some types of cancers, and type 2 diabetes – are all associated with unhealthful eating patterns.
- Treatable Illnesses: The treatment of diabetes alone was nearly over $174 billion each year, and then annual health care costs for a person with diabetes averages about $12,000 (American Diabetes Association 2009).
- Productivity and Disease: Over $124 billion is lost in productivity attributed to cardiovascular disease. Increasing obesity among children and adults poses an overwhelming economic consequence as well.
- Obesity: The total economic cost of obesity in the US tops $117 billion per year, including $60 billion in avoidable medical costs (ADA 2006).
Sorry for all the numbers, however, they are necessary to get this point across – it’s very expensive to treat chronic nutrition-related diseases, and nutrition is an imperative cornerstone in preventative health care. A person cannot have good health without proper nutrition. And, conversely, poor nutrition contributes substantially to poorer health, increased health care costs. and decreased productivity in the workplace.
Now that you know that being healthy and eating a balanced diet can save you money, your next question should be “How do you do it without breaking the bank?”
Budget Friendly Paleo Diet Tips
#1 – BUY LOCALLY
Although there really isn’t a legal definition for “local foods”, the basic premise of buying “local” means buying foods produces as close to home as possible. This means buying food at your local farmer’s markets, for example. Buying local supports sustainable farming methods, increases the farmer’s income and food quality, and decreases transportation, processing methods and packaging costs that creep into your overall food bill. Repeat this thought: The more your food has to travel to get to your front door, the more expensive your food will be. Buy food closer to home.
#2 – BUY FROZEN WHEN FRESH IS OUT OF SEASON
One of the most important facts about frozen fruits and vegetables is that it effectively locks in the nutritional value. Advances in quick freezing technology have allowed producers to pick fruits and vegetables at their peak and at their most nutritious state. Fresh foods have a high nutrition value too; however, the nutritional value of fresh foods diminishes each day it’s on the shelf or in your refrigerator. Frozen is a great way to eat fruit out of season to save costs and get more nutritional value for your money. When fresh fruits and vegetables are in season, spread them out on a cookie sheet and freeze it yourself to save even more money.
#3 – BE FRUGAL WITH ORGANIC PRODUCE
To get the most bang for your buck, spend your money on organic produce only where it will have the most impact on your health. Since the following fruits and vegetables often have the highest pesticide residues, go ahead and purchase the organic variety instead: peaches, apples, bell-peppers, celery, strawberries, cherries, pears, nectarines, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, and carrots. For fruits and vegetables that do not make this list, you can made do with the non-organic variety.
#4 – KEEP PACKAGING TO A MINIMUM
Buy less packaged foods. Since packaging costs the producer money, these costs get passed on to you! Buying food in bulk, especially nuts and spices, is a lot more affordable. Not to mention, better for the environment.
#5 – EMBRACE “OFF LABELS” AND STORE BRANDS
Generic brands are usually priced below those products sold by supermarkets under their own brand. Most of the time these store brands are produced in the same production line as name brands and are the same quality, you just end up paying more for the name. This reads, buy “Safeway Select” or “Kirkland” brands.
#6 – BUY WHOLE CHICKEN INSTEAD OF INDIVIDUAL CUTS
Whole chickens cost around $0.69 – $1.99 per pound, depending on where you shop. Boneless, skinless chicken breast can cost anywhere from $2.99 – $6.99 per pound. Buying whole chickens means you also get the bones, which you can use to make your own homemade chicken stock and save even more money from buying packaged chicken stock.
#7 – DRINK MORE WATER. THE TAP KIND!
Federal, state, and local governments have much more rigorous regulations and frequent testing on tap water than bottled. A study done by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that one-third of the bottled brands tested contained bacterial or chemical contamination in some samples at levels that violated enforceable state standards or warning levels.
#8 – SHOP “IN-SEASON”
Reiterates some of the points made above. Local foods in season are more affordable than buying foods out of season coming from other parts of the world and better for the environment
#9 – SEE WHAT’S ON SALE AND COUPON CLIP
Look for those deals at your local grocery store through ads and coupons.
#10 – MAKE SOUP MORE OFTEN
As we get closer to the colder months of the year, now is a great time to make a nice hearty bowl of soup from scratch. Make use out of those vegetables that are looking a little limp and your homemade chicken stock from tip #6 above.
#11 – LIMIT THE TIMES YOU DINE OUT
If you do go out, save half of your entree for lunch tomorrow. Two meals for the price of one!
#12 – INVEST IN SOME STEEL
You can stretch your dollar a lot farther when you’re able to prepare foods at home. Invest in a good quality chef’s knife, paring knife, and serrated knife, and you’ll be prepared to slice and dice any food that comes your way.
#13 – DOUBLE RECIPES AND FREEZE HALF
Hello, homemade TV dinners!
#14 – STRETCH YOUR DINNERS
If you make a roasted chicken one night, use the leftovers to make a roasted chicken sandwich for lunch the next day. It’s a lot cheaper than buying sliced deli meats, plus much lower in sodium. If you still have leftovers, use them to make paleo chicken enchilada lasagna, stir-fry, or a salad with sliced chicken.
Have any budget friendly paleo diet tips you would like to share with us when it comes to eating healthy during tough times? We would love to know!
References:American Dietetics Association (2006). Position of the American Dietetic Association: The Roles of Registered Dietitians and Dietetic Technicians, Registered in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Journal of the American Dietetic Association. American Diabetes Association (2009). Retrieved on October 15, 2009 from: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-statistics/cost-of-diabetes-in-us.jsp Lundberg, G. (2005). The American Healthcare “System,” in 2005 – part 1; available from: http://www.medscape.com/voewarticle/496865 Nelms (2007): http://www.webmd.com/health-ehome-9/slideshow-organic-foods http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/whybuylocal/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generic_brand http://www.thefamilygroove.com/aug09_EcoHasLanded.htm