When my friends started having kids, their concerns became both magnified and more basic. Good shelter. An ability to provide sustainable financial security over the long-term. An ability to provide healthy, nutritious food. They wanted the best for their kids, and good, safe food was part of if it. The concern with healthy eating, however, can be quite pricey. Or is it? A lot of people would say that you can’t put a price tag on good health. Or they would say that you’re saving yourself money, evaluating healthy eating as a preventative measure. But I would suggest, right here and now, healthy eating is the frugal choice. It takes organisation, and sometimes some extra time resources, but here’s how healthy eating can save you money.
Back To Basics
I read an incredible article on the Guardian this week, ‘Why Our Food Is Making Us Fat’, which really started me thinking about the cost of healthy eating. In it, the author suggested that, contrary to popular opinion (the low-fat, high protein, no-carb style of thinking) sugar was the main culprit in current issues with obesity. Not just a spoonful in our daily coffee, but the sugar hidden in a lot of food we would considered generally healthy. Fruit juice. Instant oats or brown rice. Pasta and white bread. Flavoured low-fat yogurts. So while this means it’s a good idea to start reading ingredient labels, and avoiding anything that has words ending in -ose all through it, there is a frugal bonus. If you’ve spent a fortune on low fat products, on diet shakes and protein bars, on fruit and veggie juice as a replacement for your 5 a day, you can save money by heading back to basics. Buy fruit, it’s cheaper than the juice and is the best way to get sucrose into your diet. Find a yoghurt that has natural flavourings, cultures and no preservatives. You can invest some of the money you will save in buying organic produce, and the rest can be put towards a different saving goal.
Ignore The Bright Colours
Bright packaging (or a lot of packaging) seem synonymous with unhealthy eating options; think of the breakfast cereal aisle at Woolies. And what, in the end, are we paying for? You can get wholegrain oats for a third of the price, large tubs of organic yoghurt for the same price as package-heavy 4 packs or a sack of oranges for the same price as splashy 200mL bottles of juice. The health benefits, positives for the environment and nice effect on our wallets all make this a great move.
Whip It Up
If the return to home-baking seems like a counter-cultural phenomenon on the edges of everyone’s busy nine-to-five, then it might be time to reconsider. Not only will you save huge amounts of money (no more $15 ready-made meals, $5 sourdough loaves or store-bought pizza bases), you’ll also be able to ensure that you are eating quality ingredients without any hidden additives. There is an additional time resource, of course. But once you’ve picked up the basics of breadmaking, pizza dough, homemade pies and falafel burgers, you’ll be amazed how much money you can save.
Health Equals Dollars
Junk food makes you eat more. Anyone can tell you that they feel tired and hungry within an hour of eating McDonalds. Or their 3pm chocolate bar habit leaves them desperate for dinner. The beforementioned article suggests that there is some research pointing to the fact that some sugar additions actually increase our appetite. As opposed to healthy eating options- low-GI alternatives, meals that involve complex carbs and protein, regular eating patterns- which keep you satiated and energised throughout the day. The healthier you eat, the less money you’ll spend on snacks and energy boosts throughout the day.