Fast food, junk food and processed food are almost always cheaper than healthy, fresh food. How are people living on a tight budget supposed to eat wisely when healthier foods cost more? We are told that “proper eating”along with exercise can help prevent certain diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer and others.

We’re told that limiting cholesterol, and trans and saturated fat is heart healthy, but cheap foods are often filled with these fat taboos.  We’re told thatlimiting sugar intake is important for many reasons, including decreasing the risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, but many processed foods are high in refined sugars.

So, what are some practical steps to eating healthy on a budget? Sometimes people think eating healthy means you must shop at a certain grocery store or purchase only organic food. While there is nothing wrong with this, if youcannot afford to always shop the “right way”, there are some ways you can still eat minimally processed, healthy foods on a budget.

Buy produce that is in season. These will be cheaper, support local farmers and are also good for the environment. During winter when produce is most likely not in season, save money by buying frozen fruit or veggies.  Frozen produce is not less healthy than fresh and it can be stored longer.  During summer months, stock up on fresh fruit or vegetables and either freeze or can them so as to have these foods for months ahead when such items are no longer in season.

Make a grocery list and plan your meals. Planning meals can save a lot of money and will cut down on food waste.  There are many recipes for cheap, quick, healthy meals.  A little planning can go a long way.  Keep staples such as fresh fruit, eggs, canned beans and frozen veggies on hand.

Buy in bulk. Packaging is expensive.  Buying in bulk is cheaper than buying the same product in a smaller, pre- packaged container.  Things that are easy to buy in bulk include nuts, oatmeal or other grains, dried legumes, dried fruit, and protein powders are some examples.

Practice cooking creatively. When you have leftovers from dinner, try to use them in another meal – add them to a pasta dish, veggie burrito or omelet, or fold them into a soup or sauce. Don’t waste food.

Grow your own healthy foods. You don’t need a lot of space to plant a few of your favourite vegetables, fruit and herbs. If space is an issue, use containers or planters. Get ideas from gardening magazines or do your research online.

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