During these tough financial times, everyone is looking for ways to cut spending and reduce their overall cost of living. People are cutting back on all things considered “luxury.” Unfortunately, along with the other non-necessities, people are choosing to spend less at the grocery store as well. What are the implications of this? What are some ways to save money and stay healthy? Take a good look at your monthly spending habits and then read on. You may find that the foods you are putting in your body are worth every penny and the grocery bill is the last place that you should be frugal.
The old adage: “You are what you eat” should really be referred to as a law. Through a complicated system of digestion, filtration and absorption, your body literally processes and assimilates everything that you put into it. Your liver filters out contaminants including pesticides, chlorine (yes, bleach), and unnatural man-made preservatives. In the small intestine, the body will extract all of the vitamins and minerals that it requires, then sends the left over “garbage” down to your large intestine and colon. If you frequently bombard your body with poor quality food, the digestive system gets overloaded and is unable to process and clean what you’ve ingested. This causes the liver to get congested therefore leaving unclean residue to make its way to your colon. In the end, your colon is a warehouse that holds the remaining contaminants until elimination. Here, the sensitive intestinal walls are poisoned with these toxins if you do not have a regular system that eliminates effectively. Now, this is not a lecture on regularity; but I think you can understand the importance of putting clean, wholesome food into your body. Below are five ways that you can cut expenses, save money and stay healthy during tough times:
1. The best step towards reducing your food bill is to stop eating restaurant prepared food. While your grocery bill will be higher, you’re overall monthly food expenditure will be significantly lower. I have tracked monthly food spending and find that in general it is two to three times more expensive to eat food that has been prepared by a restaurant. Avoid quick stops at 7-Eleven and Starbucks as well as sit down lunches and dinners. This one action will save you money and provide your body with healthier food.
2. Commit to two weeks and learn how to prepare all of your own meals at home. At first it will be like learning a new language—frustrating and overwhelming. Once you find your own shortcuts to make it easier, you will be saving money and time. It is much more time efficient to prepare your food for the entire day instead of making frequent stops when hunger strikes. You’ll save time and money. Start with a big trip to the grocery store so that you will have all of the foods that you need for meals throughout the week. Purchase a food cooler, re-usable freeze packs, clear storage containers, and Ziploc bags. Most people don’t carry their meals and snacks during the day because they don’t have the proper “gear.” It will be an investment up front, but the long-term savings will make it worth it.
3. In addition to saving money, it is far healthier to prepare your own food at home. Commercial grade foods that restaurants purchase to prepare for you are often lower quality that what you find at your grocery store. By choosing your own foods, fresh from the grocery store, you will be eating food that is higher in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You will also be avoiding added salt, sugar, and preservatives. Restaurants are smart and sneak extra flavorings and fats into foods so that it will taste good. This one step- cooking all meals at home- can substantially lower your overall caloric intake, provide you with healthier food, and save money.
4. When shopping, plan meals around fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are filling- more bang for your buying buck- and are the cheapest food in the grocery store. Select good protein sources such as chicken, turkey, eggs and canned tuna instead of expensive red meat. If you take the time to explore cooking at home and get creative, you can come up with many delicious staples for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. It just takes a little time to get used to a new system. Foods to keep in mind:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Soups and stews—make a big pot at home for a few dollars and you will have several meals
- Buts—buy in large quantities to save more
- Meatloaf—find a recipe that is appealing and healthy. Makes several meals.
- Greek yogurt—is a heartier yogurt with less sugar and more protein than traditional “American” yogurt.
5. No excuses. Don’t fool yourself into believing that fast food is acceptable during tough financial times. Price and convenience are the most common reasons people choose to hit the drive through for meals. The truth is, if you plan ahead and prepare meals in advance, there is no comparison: home cooked meals are far cheaper. And if you plan ahead and carry your food with you, there is no more convenient way to eat. Despite the lack of many large-scale studies, we know that fast food is linked with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. You have a choice: deal now with the time, money and effort required to prepare your own meals, or plan to invest a great deal more in your unhealthy future. The absolute best way to avoid high health care costs in the future is to keep your body healthy and clean in the present.