Eating a balanced diet doesn’t need to be labor-intensive or costly. With proper planning, savvy shopping and smart choices, you can save your mola and feel good. Here I am highlighting some how-tos on eating healthy on a budget, catered to those looking after blood sugar control, which in a way, relates to everyone. What do I mean?
Even people without diagnosed hypoglycemia, diabetes, insulin resistance, etc, should still consider how food affects blood sugar control. Blood sugar affects our moods, sleep, inflammation, energy and more. Overall, a diet balanced in good fat, protein and moderate carbohydrates is a recipe for well-being, thus, the more nutritious a diet, the less food required to meet one’s needs. Prevention trumps treatment.
Invest in your health today, so you do not have to pay for it tomorrow.
To begin, assess what your next 7+ days look like:
- Do you have dinner plans anywhere, will you be able to reheat or cook at home for dinner, lunch and/or breakfast? If so, how often this week?
- How many people are you responsible for feeding? (You will need to buy more, make more)
- Do you have any long days of work ahead, or night errands to run? (You will need something portable)
- Make a grocery list with meals in mind, yet, don’t feel the need to buy everything raw or from fancy health stores.
The most important thing to eating right is a plan. I always tell clients, “If they fail to plan, they plan to fail.” And this is quite important so one knows the proper amount of food to buy. We don’t want to buy a garden of produce if we end up tossing it out. Literally sketch out 7 days and plot 3 meals, based on real food, plus snacks (if needed) for each day. Real food is real medicine.
A French man once said he walked into a North American grocery store and couldn’t find any food.
How does this make sense? Well, if you think about and roam the aisles and food labels enough, you will find that this certain man is onto something. A majority of our food in the US that has a label on it, is not real food. Just this morning I was running grocery errands and picked up a dozen of products and set them right back down because of cheap, unhealthy ingredients listed such as GMO beets (sugar), canola oil (very inflammatory), food colorings, chemicals, HFCS, more sugar, MSG, artificial sweeteners, BHA/BHT, nitrates, sulfates, the list goes on. Yet, my point is, know what is good for you and have an idea of where to get it.
Next up, shopping. Some places of interest and easy on the wallet:
Costco – Kerrygold butter and cheese (comes from grassfed cows; richer in fat soluble vitamins and CLA), organic greens, organic frozen veggies and fruit (frozen items are one secret to not wasting food and always having something healthy available), Columbus Deli Meat (gluten free, hormone free), raw nuts, Clean 15 fruit, organic free range chicken, organic eggs, almond milk, canned tuna, canned tomatoes, spices, nuts.
Trader Joe’s – organic greens, organic apples, grassfed ground beef, or lean beef, tahini dip (to help enjoy vegetables), wine, nuts, coffee, Kerrygold butter, New Zealand cheese (grassfed), gluten free oats, black rice, almond butter, spices, prosciutto, Columbus brand deli meat, uncured turkey bacon, chicken sausages, organic tomatoes, organic tomato paste, almond milk, coconut milk, rice cakes, nut butters, nuts.
Walmart Express – they also have a great organic section (buy organic only when budget allows and focus on the Dirty Dozen). Walmart Express also has a great seafood section with lots of wild fish (vs farmed), almond milk, coconut milk, almond meal, condiments.
Overall these suggestions can be applied to local grocery stores too.
Additional ways to save:
- Look at ads, use coupon apps available on smartphones
- buy ingredients, not products
- by produce in season, when cheapest
- grow your own vegetables/herbs
- never overeat and see how the quality of food, not volume, makes you feel satisfied (intuitive eating)
- cook in bulk and freeze portions for leftovers
- buy in bulk, and choose ingredients that can used in multiple dishes
- buy whole, canned wild fish, frozen fish
- buy fruits and vegetables frozen (just as healthy, if not more healthy)
- buy cheaper cuts of meat and slow-cook it to get it tender
- don’t major in minor things. Focus on buying real food and don’t stress if you can’t get organic or grassfed
- avoid foods void in nutrition, which can simply just increase appetite. For example, gluten containing grains, sugar, processed food, granola bars
- cut out the extras – coffee, bottled water, etc
- keep food simple, yet, have variety so your palate doesn’t get bored.
Food prep can be therapeutic; especially when you look at it as a time to unwind and forget about work stresses, etc. We need to unplug, to recharge. Set aside time, one time a week, to prep meals and snacks, so when you come rushing in the door, or out, you have something nutritious to quickly reheat or consume within a short window of time.
- Frittata – these are great, and can be made in advance, sliced and heated or chilled for a well-rounded breakfast or lunch. The ingredients do not need to be elaborate. Choose some produce, lean meat and spices.
- Salad with Tuna – as simple as it sounds. When I was on the road a lot with work, I would run to the grocery before Monday AM, pick up a bag of lettuce greens, canned tuna, eggs (then hard boil them) and some other type of produce, and throw it all together for 3 lunches or so a week.
- Lettuce Tacos – buy some lean meat, mix some spices and throw it over some vegetables or romaine leaves. Leftover meat is great with eggs too.
- Grilled Fish and Frozen Veg with spices – buy some frozen fish in bulk, pull out however many filets you need in the morning, thaw in the refrigerator, and cook in a skillet with some lemon, butter and pepper and pair with a vegetable.
- Scrambled Eggs and Ham – simple, cheap and satisfying.
- Banana Pancakes – take 2 eggs and one small banana, mash, and make 2 pancakes.
Real change is not easy, but it is worth it.
Cheers to you and good health,