We are all looking desperately for ways to cut the monthly budget, and like many of you, the first place my eye goes is to the grocery bill. I mean, we could survive off Ramen noodles for the next month (I did in college, didn’t I?), so this can be a tempting gold mine of cost savings in desperate times.
However, more and more research is coming out about how bad all the “cheap” food is for us (be sure to catch “The Unhealthy Truth” coming out in May by Robyn McCord O’Brien and go to www.allergykids.com for more information on this). We’re actually already spending less of our income on food than at any other time in history, and by choosing the cheap fillers of corn syrup, soy, and GMO’s, our children are paying the price. Childhood cases of food allergies, ADHD, Autism, and Asthma are through the roof, and tons of research (that I firmly believe) links it to the JUNK that’s in our food.
Another horrifying statistic is that just 100 years ago, Americans ate less sugar in an entire year than we now eat in a single day. It’s not that we’re loading up on desserts- this sugar is in our meals and “healthy” snacks!
So, how do we balance these two forces that are crashing down around our heads: the need to buy more expensive food AND the need to spend less money? Here are a few things that I’ve found that will at least help you get started on both eating more healthily AND cutting your food budget:
Buy frozen: Research has shown that frozen fruits and vegetables can be even healthier than fresh ones (often picked unripe and shipped long distances). Obviously, local, organic, and fresh is best, but frozen isn’t as bad as you think.
Start with just the essential organics: The most important things to buy organic are milk, eggs, chicken, and beef. If you can’t swallow the price of organic meat, at least go “all natural” with no antibiotics or hormones.
Eliminate corn syrup: Double-check your bread, granola bars, peanut butter, crackers, and kid snacks, and cut this ingredient out. This one step will do wonders for your kids health.
When you can, DO buy organic: strawberries, Chilean grapes (tons of pesticides!), peppers, spinach, cherries, peaches, Mexican Cantaloupe, celery, apples, apricots, green beans, and cucumbers.
Don’t bother buying organic: avocadoes, corn, onions, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, non-Chilean grapes, bananas, plums, green onions, watermelon, or broccoli.
Buy Organic, Free Trade Coffee but brew it yourself. After your morning is over, turn off your coffee maker with just a little coffee left in it, and when you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, don’t buy a chemical-laden Diet Coke- make a cold iced coffee (with real sugar, not sweetened chemicals).
Eat Less. Yes, I said it. We Americans try to lose weight and save money by finding the cheapest low-calorie “health” food we can buy, and then eating tons of it. Instead, let’s eat something real and authentic, enjoy it, and then stop eating.
Let’s start with just this. There are plenty more things we can do to be more healthy and save more money- and we’ll get to those in good time- but starting with these simple steps is a good start for both our bodies and our budget.