Sunday, August 24, 2014

Healthy Food for Less

I'm sick of hearing that healthy food is too expensive, that it's cheaper to eat junk food, that low income people cannot afford to eat healthy, that a meal at McDonalds costs less than a self-prepared meal, and other such nonsense.

The only circumstance where that might be true, is if you don't have refrigeration or a stove. In other words, if you don't have a way to cook your own meals and to store your perishables, then junk food and fast food might prove to be the cheaper option.

Otherwise, if you do have a stove and refrigerator, and you are armed with the right information, you should be able to buy healthy foods without spending a lot of money.

It's a fact. I know it. I live it.

Healthy food isn't just about the calories.

If we're just talking straight up calories, well then, maybe junk food carries more bang for the buck, high calorie and low nutrition is mostly what you'll find in the junk food aisle, but eating healthy is not just about calories, it's about nutrition, and more calories does not always equal better nutrition, very often the opposite is true.

It is possible to get good nutrition and an adequate amount of calories without spending a lot of money.

Here is a list of inexpensive healthy foods, which I am convinced would feed and keep at least one person healthy for less than $30 dollars a week:

Oatmeal. Not instant, but the kind you cook on the stove. If you look for sales, buy in bulk, or generic store brands, can usually be found for a dollar a pound.

Eggs. At about 20 cents an egg, it's a bargain.

Beans.

Rice.

Frozen vegetables, especially broccoli and spinach.

Multi-grain bread. I get the store brand, without preservatives or high fructose corn syrup, at $1.99 a loaf.

Canned tuna. Only in moderation, because of the mercury contamination, but otherwise is a really good source of protein and omega fatty acids.

Cottage cheese. I hear good things about cottage cheese, just might add it to my diet, and see how I like it.

Peanut butter. I get mine from Trader Joe's, the old fashioned kind you stir, at $2.49 a jar. Not all peanut butter is equal. Beware of hydrogenated vegetable oil. The only thing you should see on the ingredients list should be peanuts, and maybe salt. Thank goodness for Trader Joe's, otherwise the natural peanut butter at Safeway costs twice as much.

Fresh carrots, onions, celery (mostly for adding to bean dishes and soups), garlic, peppers.

Sweet potatoes.

Sunflower seeds and raisins.

Pasta sauce, for not only pasta, but for making bean dishes and soups.

Fresh apples, oranges, and bananas. This is the only fruit I buy regularly, as in every single week. Anything else varies according to price and season. I might buy blueberries and pineapples, but not every week. A banana costs only about twenty cents, and it's probably the healthiest thing you can buy for the money.

While this isn't everything I buy, things not mentioned would be luxuries like beer and chocolate and tea and dairy and soy, but I would say this list constitutes the staple of my diet, and is extremely affordable and healthy. I could live off of this if I had to. There is so much you can do with beans and vegetables. And personally I love oatmeal, especially with fresh apple, no sugar needed. It never gets old.

The reason why we overspend, is because of our craving for luxuries, rich high calorie foods, expensive meats, desserts, alcohol, and processed snacks. If we were able to keep our diets simple, low calorie, high nutrition, one doesn't have to spend a lot of money to eat a healthy diet.

This diet, healthy food for less, is intended for slim people. If you want to be big, are the size of a refrigerator, and don't want to lose any weight, it won't work.

But I personally subscribe to the school of thought that sees a correlation between consuming fewer calories, but calories with a high nutrient value, and living a longer and healthier life. The more you spend on food, the more calories you eat, and the bigger you are, the shorter your life, and the less healthy you will be.

Just look at the lifespan of dogs. The smaller dogs live the longest. I think the same thing is true of humans and I will prove it.

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