By Dr. Michelle Hagel ND
Investing in health is the most important investment you will ever make; however, it doesn’t have to be the largest. Here are some cost-saving tips to Good Health on a Budget.
Plan your Meals Ahead of Time
Meal planning in Calgary for a week can take some time initially but you will spend less time and money once you get to the grocery store. When we don’t plan, we end up getting foods that may or may not be consumed in time, leading to more food waste or wasted fridge space. We are also more likely to just grab something, instead of having the more nutritious, cost-effective, homemade alternative. The average Canadian household throws out 215kg or $600/year, so keep that money in your pocket this year. This will also have a big impact on our planet, so plan ahead, shop smart, and avoid those extras or include them in next week’s plan.
Ditch the Junk
Once in the grocery store shop the perimeter of the store, avoid processed foods. Although initially, it appears the pre-packaged or frozen food is cheaper, in the long run, it is not. Making your own pizza is cheaper and far more nutritious that any frozen or delivered pizza- Cauliflower crust pizza is one of my favourites.
Purchasing large quantities will save you time and money. It may seem like a large purchase initially but in the long run, think of those saved trips back to the store. Having things on hand, when times get busy will save your health and your wallet. This specifically applies to things you can freeze like meat, frozen fruit/vegetables and items with a relatively long shelf life such as onions, sweet potatoes, oils and nut butters. Buying fruit and vegetables in season like blueberries will be cheaper and are very easy to freeze. Food storage becomes another important factor when buying larger quantities to prolong shelf life and prevent waste. Understanding how to preserve certain foods is important. With produce you want to take it out of the plastic bags, the bags will suffocate the produce and speed up the rate of decay. Do not wash produce until it is ready to be consumed, the moisture will cause mold and decay. Keep produce whole, once you rip off stems it will allow microorganisms to grow.
Get the Most out of Your Meat
Meat is generally the largest ticket item on the shopping list. Chicken breasts can be quite costly, instead go for the whole chicken, then you’ll also have a carcass to make highly nutritious bone broth. You can also go for some cheaper cuts.
Know your Stores
Another great way to make your dollar go further is to figure out which stores have the best prices on different types of food. For example, one store may have the best price on fresh, high-quality produce but the meat is more expensive. This may require some research and shopping around, for future trips have different lists for different stores, but can go along way especially if purchasing in larger quantities. In season shopping outside the supermarket can be a great option, like farmer’s markets or other outdoor markets.
Homemade Salad Dressings and Dips
Making your own salad dressings and dips like hummus, guacamole, tomato sauce… etc. This is one of my favourites tips not only to save money but then you know what is in your food. Often salad dressing and dip labels are a never-ending list of preservatives, flavours and sugar. Make your own for less and stick to quality whole foods get rid of the hidden preservatives, and unneeded sugar.
Fall is one of my favourite times to detox, heading into that holiday season. You don’t have to do an expensive herbal detox, just go easy on your body. Kick the sugar, drink lemon water daily and practice deep breathing. To boost your body’s ability to detox try some hydrotherapy- contrast showers. These begin with 30 seconds hot water 10 seconds cold water, doing 5 cycles ending on cold. This small shower change can invigorate and improve circulation. Your body will thank you for these few changes and can be done all year long.
Start your Own Garden
Not exactly a practical recommendation at this time of the year, but for next year plant your own garden. Gardening is good for the mind and the body. There are unlimited benefits of growing your own foods; it’s organic, it is loaded with nutrition because it doesn’t have to travel, good for the planet, it tastes better, it lasts longer and seeds are very low cost. You can start now by growing your own herb garden throughout the winter months. Herbs like rosemary even act as air purification plants, removing indoor pollutants. You can save yourself from buying dried herbs in the store and reduce the amount of sugar loaded sauces you use by increasing your food flavour in a healthy way.
There is lots of buzz around eating organically, and there is no doubt organic is the healthier, cleaner option. However it can be an expensive option, if you are on a tight budget I generally suggest getting familiar with the dirty dozen. There are 12 fruits and vegetables that will expose us to more chemicals than others these are known as the dirty dozen. I highly recommend these foods be consumed organically whenever possible. While the Clean 15 foods are foods that will expose our bodies to less chemicals, are not as important to be consumed organically.