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Healthy Eating in the Face of Food Scarcity

Not so sure about your grocery store, but the one I shop at regularly seems to be sparse on fresh fruits and vegetables. For many this puts a damper on their health journey from the standpoint of incorporating nutrient dense foods. Below are some tips on how to eat healthy and save money at the same time.

1. Shop the Bulk Section

When you’re buying dry goods and pantry staples such as dried beans, lentils, quinoa, nuts, seeds, and grains, bulk is the way to go. Not only do you save on packaging, you also can buy what you need.

If there is a cost savings to you, buy in bulk, using your freezer to immediately store any food you don’t need. This can be a great strategy when meat is on sale, for instance – if you can afford to stock up on a few extra pounds of meat at a sale price, you can store it in your freezer to get the benefit of that savings later.

Take advantage of “buy one get one free” situations so you can stock up. It may cost you a little more in the beginning, but it proves to be cost saving in the long run.

2. Shop Online

No matter where you live, shopping online can save you both time and money. My favorite is Thrive Market, which offers many top healthy foods, natural beauty, and cleaning product brands at prices 25-50% lower than traditional grocery stores. Many of my clients shop there to stock up on spices, oils, snacks, nuts, nut butters, beans, grains, alternative pastas and more. There is free shipping for orders over $49, and it’s typically delivered within 2 days. After the free 30-day trial, the $60 annual membership fee will still help you save (and if you’re a student or veteran or have a low income, you may be eligible for a free membership.

3. Buy Frozen Produce

Plain frozen produce is an excellent choice for the practical healthy shopper. It’s convenient, less expensive, and equally nutritious. Frozen produce is picked when ripe and at peak nutrition, and flash frozen right away to retain maximum nutrients. By contrast, the “fresh” fruits, and vegetables you get in the produce section are often picked early when under-ripe to withstand traveling and warehousing before they get to the store, which could be days, weeks, or even months later. Once a fruit or vegetable is picked, the nutrients generally start to diminish with time. So, although fresh local produce is your best bet, don’t be afraid to supplement with frozen.

4. Buy Frozen Fish

The technology around freezing fish is very advanced, with much of the fish flash-frozen right on the boat, so it’s a very healthy option. Frozen fish is still less expensive than fresh, and there’s less waste because you control how much you thaw at a time.

5. Choose Store Brands

Store brands have come a long way. Of course, with any packaged food, always read the ingredient list to make sure you’re getting clean, recognizable ingredients. If it has more than 4-5 ingredients, walk away.

6. Batch Cook

One of the best ways to save money is to plan and batch cook your meals. Spending just an hour or two cooking on the weekends can save you time, let alone stress during the week, so you eat more homemade items and less pricey takeout. Plus, meal planning and batch cooking can save you from wasting food.

7. Memberships

Look into membership sellers to see if they will offer you a cost savings that will offset their expense. While you may need to pay a yearly fee, if the savings you get from purchasing certain items specifically from these sources is great it may be worthwhile for you. CSA’s are also available for those looking to buy a share in a community supported program. Memberships to high quality meats are also available.

8. Grow Your Own Food

Americans waste an estimated 1,400 calories of food per person every single day. Not only