Cell To Soul: A Saratoga Nutrition Blog

Eating Organic & Sustainable foods doesn't have to Bust Budget


So often I've heard people say "eating healthy is too expensive".  With our current economy, many people are buying more into this claim.  I think #1:  The method of marketing foods in our culture, #2:  The American "food service culture", and #3:  The family norms around food are important components of our lives that have become so steered away from whole, more sustainable foods, that sustainable whole foods eating has become a thing of the past for many people.   Organic "clean" eating has become more of an art form and a challenge than it needs or should be.   And therefore, economics is tied all around these challenges.

It is very possible to eat healthy and not spend above the food budget.  I see my clients achieve this all the time. Creating a (eating) life-style that uniquely works for one-self and supports a healthy and affordable diet, is very significant to living and "enduring" the times we live in.  Doing so really will support everything in a persons life. And as we know, it is very significant to the preservation of our land and animals as well.

 Some of the life-style factors, and therefore changes, this involves are the locations of where to purchase foods, the type of foods to purchase and how foods are prepared and cooked.  The change(s) does not have to be a 360 degrees change from where you are; that usually does not work.  Choose one or more factors that are "doable with some effort" and then build by choosing more from there.   Below is a list of life-style changes that will help anyone stick to a budget while eating healthy.


Sustainable Nutrition 22  -
Sustainable & Affordable Eating for Health
By Mary Beth McCue RD LDN CDN  www.SaratogaNutrition.com

Print and place this article on your refrigerator door at home and somewhere at work.  This can be your first change that you have accomplished.

1.  Plan a Menu.    Plan a two-week menu ahead of time for each season, and build from here.  This will help with a shopping list.  Go to whole foods websites like wholefoodsmarket.com, traderjoes.com, retreat centers like kripalu.org or our local Honest Weight Food Co-op at hwfc.com.  These all have simple, whole foods, plant based recipes that center around local seasonal sustainable foods.


2.  Farmers Markets:  Many markets now run year round - as they do in our area.  We have a year round farmers market in Saratoga & Troy.  They are more economical then conventional grocery shopping because the middle man between the farmers and yourself are eliminated.  In addition, since they are local, transportation cost are lower than costs to ship from non-local areas, there are no packaging costs, no food washing or preparation (cutting) costs.  This is all beneficial to the environment as well.  Most valuable is that the foods are organic or sustainable (ie. may have a very mild pesticide spray or just not certified organic) and are picked at ripen stage and therefore at the highest nutritional state.  This is not the case for any plant foods that are not local.  Most organics produce in chain grocery stores do not contain the nutritional value that local or regional plants have. They are devoid of the one important element you need from them - nutrients.  Most are from out of our region, such as California.  Try to make the farmers market a regular part of your life, even if you go once every 2 or 3 weeks.  Bring your kids and teach them about real healthy foods. 


3.  Consider Home Delivery Organics:  Take turns with friends going to the farmers markets, or picking-up your weekly farm share, and deliver a bag to a friends' door.  Or consider an organic home delivery service.  A new service in our area can be contacted at www.clkorganics.com.


4.  Shop at Food Co-ops/Buy in Bulk:  We have two in our area.  The Niskayuna Co-op and the Honest Weight Food Co-op.  Produce is similar to the farmers' market advantages, and most are regional.  There are many items like grains, nuts, legumes, flours, etc. that can be purchased in bulk.  In addition, there are church or other community groups that purchase bulk several times per year. 


5.  Decrease Meat and "Complete Protein" Consumption.  We do not need to eat these foods daily for health. Decrease weekly food costs by replacing meat or fish meals with nut butter sandwiches, hummus on flat breads with sliced tomatoes and sliced cucumbers, and a plethora of dishes one can do with other legumes such as lentil soups, chili, baked beans, chick peas and seeds on salads, kidney beans and fresh tomatoes and pesto on pastas, and the list goes on.

6. Navigate the Supermarkets wisely.  For those that purchase in traditional grocery stores, try to eliminate a lot of unnecessary purchases by starting on the outside ring and try to purchase there the majority of the time.   This is where you will find fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy products, and some of your grains.  This area is where the majority of whole foods are.  This is also where the prepared meals, bakery and other tempting foods are that can greatly add to your food and health costs - while providing little to no nutritional value.


7.  Batch Cook.  You may choose to cook more than you need and freeze the left-over's for another time.  Many items like soups, stews, chili, and meatballs can be easily batch prepared.  Try it once a month.  This cuts down on food preparation.
In addition, seasonally available, locally produced organic foods can be frozen, dehydrated or preserved to further contain a family's monthly food costs.  Do this with friends and trade foods that you prepare for storage.

8. Change Your Programming.    If your programming (what you tell yourself and others) about whole sustainable eating is "This is going to be hard, or I do not have any time for this, or this is expensive, etc. etc. ", then it simply will be.  What ever you declare to be your reality in life will be, and will continue to be your reality. It is what you will continue to manifest.  Educate your self, as in this article.  Start with small steps in whatever unique way you need to and once you shift your reality to doing something different and see the benefits, you will continue to do it and you will continue to draw more of it into your life.  It is that simple. 


9.   Eating less of the plethora of "empty-calorie" foods available everywhere, like chips, soda, cookies and candy, or a drive-thru.  Improve your health and prevent unnecessary spending.  Go into a convenient or grocery store sometime just for the purpose of looking around at all the prepared foods that are barely a food.  You can buy a lot of apples, carrots, potatoes, bananas, etc. for the price of large bags of chips, boxes of cookies, containers of ice cream, etc. etc. 

10.  Try a new Recipe once every week or two to help increase your variety of home whole foods cooking.  Start a Recipe Swap, or meal swap with friends to create some fun with this.  There are many whole foods recipe websites.  Go to whole foods websites like wholefoodsmarket.com, traderjoes.com, retreat centers like kripalu.org or our local Honest Weight Food Co-op at hwfc.com.

11.  Get Support. We all need support and help, especially when we are creating new life-styles.  Seek a friend, find a group that supports the changes - such as members at an organic farm or people at the farmers market  Consult with a professional to help implement these changes. 


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Mary Beth McCue Saratoga Nutrition ConsultantMary Beth McCue RD, LDN, CDN - Integrative Nutrition Consultant

Rebalance your mind, body and soul with tools and advice from nutritionist Mary Beth McCue. For more than 20 years, Mary Beth has helped many optimize their health and resolve unique chronic health conditions relating to weight, digestion, food intolerances, energy & metabolism, depression, inflammation, aging and more. She has initiated a variety of first time programming in corporate, community, collegiate, National Spa & Retreat Centers, Rehabilitation Farms and Organic Farms, and more. Mary Beth was appointed by the CEO of a large Health Care Organization to initiate an Integrative Health Model. This programming successfully continues today.

Nominated as "Dietitian of the Year" while working for the largest employer of Dietitians in the world, Mary Beth McCue is a Licensed and Certified Nutritionist who specializes in Integrative and Functional Medicine Concepts. She is amongst a very small percentage of nutritionists in this field whom have dedicated their professional education and training with organizations such as Harvard Medical School, The Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) and the American College of Sports Medicine. Mary Beth is an avid hiker, biker, and skier. Strength training, yoga and her black lab help keep a check on the daily balances. Learn more at www.SaratogaNutrition.com.