After I finish introducing my healthy eating and living habits to someone new, the assumption I get to hear very often is: “All this must be very expensive – people could never afford it!”
And this is where they get it all wrong! Surely it is possible to spend a lot of money following any lifestyle, a healthy one included, but bear in mind some basic tips and the budget will never explode.
- Do not buy everything organic, if you are on a tight budget. Bear in mind the dirty dozen: celery stalks, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale, potatoes, grapes. And the ones containing the least pesticides: asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mango, mushrooms, onion, papaya, pineapple, sweet peas (frozen), sweet potatoes. See full list of foods containing the most and the least pesticides 2014 by Environmental Working Group.
- Do your research and find shops or local farmer’s markets that have friendlier prices.
- Buy organic nuts, seeds, dried fruits, grains and legumes in bulk. Find out the closest wholesalers and contact them for order terms. If there is a product you use a lot, but is quite expensive in shops, do the same – for example, I got an agreement with wholesaler to buy decent coconut milk in bulk with 20% less than in supermarket!
- Plan your meals ahead. Prepare weekly meal plans with shopping lists and only shop once a week – you would be surprised of how much you save! Should meal planning be too much of a work, then order weekly meal plans from professionals and you can be sure that all your nutrient needs are met as well + it is totally fuss free.
- Take your lunch with you. Prepare your dinners in a way that you have enough leftovers for next day’s lunch. It is part of the meal planning and helps you save substantially.
- Omnivorous diet is NOT cheaper than plant-based one. Organic meat/poultry and dairy is quite expensive – if you try to ditch all that, you’ll have enough funds for quality organic grains and legumes, even for the fancier ones like quinoa. Furthermore, I bet many people quite often throw out rancid animal products (meat, eggs, dairy) – this never happens to grains or legumes.
- Make your own detergents. If you are into chemical free household, but find that the organic products are way too expensive, try making your own detergents. Basic ingredients usually include baking or washing soda, organic bar soap, vinegar, mustard powder, soap nuts, alcohol, and water.
- You’ll find that there is a minimal need for cosmetics, if you follow a healthy diet. Women usually spend a lot on cosmetics, but actually beauty comes from inside. For example, I only use coconut oil and cacao butter on my face and body – it is much-much cheaper than “the miracle” lotions at shops, but works wonders. After adopting healthier lifestyle my skin looks much better and I do not need any cosmetic products – I just use mascara once in a while. Using as little cosmetics as I do, it is much easier to afford quality organic products that do not contain poisonous ingredients.
- Prefer natural cure over conventional pharmacy medicines. Honey, lemon, ginger, turmeric, onions, garlic etc work wonders when it comes to healing colds, flu or cough. Natural cough remedies include ginger, lemon, gargles, black pepper and honey tea etc.
- Old is new! Before you go out and buy yourself a new wardrobe, look what’s in your closet – maybe there are items you could alter (shorten sleeves, trouser legs, skirts, dresses; narrowing, getting a new belt, replacing/adding/removing the belt) – there are numerous possibilities! Swopping with your friend is also a good option – someone else’s old is your new and vice versa.
Nele Liivlaid: founder of Nutriplanet.org She has been into healthy eating for many years, but developed a more profound interest in nutrition and related diseases when she started reading The China Study and other special books on nutrition. After being in real estate and hospitality business for more than 10 years she decided to totally change her path to spread the word about healthy and sustainable nutrition and lifestyle.