Paycheck optimisation series I: Eating healthy on a budget

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By: Phil Bradford
on 30th Dec,2015

The federal agency, working under the U. It also has an appropriate amount of fats, oils and sweets than what people generally consume.
Paycheck optimisation series I: Eating healthy on a budget


The federal agency, working under the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), Centre for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) had released a report titled, “The Consumer Economic Perspective” that delved into a serious household concern, “can people spend less, yet get access to healthy food, always? ”.

The highlights of the research report is as follows:

USDA has formally introduced four kinds of food plan, namely - Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost and Liberal that provide a clear picture of the ways by which people follow a healthy diet at the said cost levels. The USDA has said that its Low-Cost Food Plan will help a family to eat a healthier diet and that includes more fruits and vegetables, at highly subsidized rates than they normally consume.

The USDA prepared a Healthy Eating Index in order to show how a vast majority of people who are following a diet that needs to be upgraded.

The USDA's Low-Cost Food Plan is said to be a nutritious diet that would cost around $175 a week for a four-member family, including a married couple within the age bracket of 20-50 years and their children, aged between 6-8 years and 9-11 years, as of November 2010.

The so-called Low-Cost Food Plan comprises of loads of vegetable, fruits, whole grains, lower fat/skim milk and other milk products as compared to traditional norms. It also has an appropriate amount of fats, oils and sweets than what people generally consume.

Contradicting popular belief that a healthier diet is costlier than a normal one, it is actually very much affordable to follow and allowing more of fruits and vegetables to be included in a household's diet pattern.

Following a healthy, yet an economical diet

The USDA has the following recommendations for people regarding what foods would be healthful as well as budget-friendly for them:

Consumers can implement the 7-day menu as part of a motivational exercise that can assist them in imbibing a healthy eating pattern into their lifestyles, as mentioned in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

On an average, a menu like this would identify foods that would meet all the recommended key nutrients in accordance to the required amounts. As per the national average food expenses, adjusted to 2011 rates, the expenses of the said menu will be less than the average amount spent on food, per consumer, for a four-member family. However, a typical 2,000 calories menu would on an average cost $6.65 a day for each member of the family.

How to save money on organic foods

There are many ways to eat healthy and nutritious food without sidestepping your monthly household budget. When it comes to organic foods, then most of the consumers consider them to be comparatively costlier. So, here are some tips to fit in organics into your grocery budget and save more every month:

Purchase in bulk - If you want to save money, but want to have healthy, organic foods, then you ought to check out at your local grocery stores, health food stores or even warehouse clubs for restaurant-grade food supplies as well as bulk bins.

Experts also suggest that you may verify online about bulk pricing of the items that you consume regularly. This would be one of the most cost-effective ways to stack up organic foods for frequent use.

Ensure that you've got the required storage space to hoard them for long enough to use later or get one of your friends on board to distribute the expenses amongst yourselves. Items that are suitable for bulk purchase are beans, grains and nuts.

Avoid the dirty dozen and choose clean 15 - Recently some data published by the U.S Department of Agriculture was analyzed by the Environmental Working Group regarding pesticides that were found as a residue in around 48 different fruits and vegetables.

So, if you are worried about the pesticide-content of the food items, then it is best for you to stay away from all those non-organic items from the so-called “dirty dozen”. Some of them are strawberries, grapes, apples, sweet bell peppers, spinach, peaches, celery, potatoes, imported snap peas, imported nectarines, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.

Still, if you find them unaffordable, then you can at least take advantage of the “clean 15”. This is because being traditionally produced these items have comparatively low pesticide content. Take for instance, you can include groceries like cauliflower, eggplant, sweet potatoes, papaya, sweet corn, pineapples, avocados, onions, cabbage, grapefruit, mangoes, cantaloupe, asparagus, frozen sweet peas, kiwi, etc into your daily diet.

Grow a kitchen garden - In an attempt to eat organic but the cost-effective way, then having your own kitchen garden can be a smart idea. To accomplish this goal of yours, you can grow a host of vegetables or herbs in your lawn, balcony or terrace. This would help you to cut down the overall amount of purchase of groceries from outside.

One of the biggest advantage of having your own produce is that you get to control the way your garden will be raised and the vegetables/herbs that will be grown in there. For example, you can decide the amount of pesticide or other organic/inorganic fertiliser to be used in the garden.

In case you fall short of space, then you may opt for potted plants or try your luck with container gardening. If you're a novice in this, then you can start off with some simple herbs, potted tomatoes or even vegetables like green chillies to quench your thirst for kitchen gardening.

Another good way to shop for affordable organic foods is by going online. There are many online grocery stores that provide lucrative offers to the buyers and have several incentives to bring in more and more health-conscious consumers to their websites. Some of the notables in this regard are Vitacost and Amazon that are gaining market dominance on the World Wide Web marketplace. Therefore, you can verily use these tricks to slash your organic food costs and save money without compromising on your health as well as the quality of your delectables.

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