5 Tips for Eating Well During Tough Economic Times
tIt’s no secret that many people are suffering right now as a result of unemployment, rising costs of food and just about everything else. We’re bombarded with news and information about the fluctuating economy and told time and time again that it’s wise to save money, while at the same time we’re given so many horror stories about what’s in our food. It can be really overwhelming to figure out how to be healthy without going broke at the same time, which is why I came up with these five quick tips on eating well when the economy isn’t so healthy:
1. Buy in Bulk
Most people know the likes of Costco and Sam’s Club for purchasing food in bulk, but did you know that you can often times speak with a farmer or vendor at your local farmers market and purchase organic seasonal produce the same way? It helps to know your farmer so get out there and talk to one to find out what his bulk prices are. Even quality halal food companies like Crescent and Saffron Road give shoppers the ability to order their products in bulk. If the quantities are too high, share the costs with family, friends or neighbors.
2. Grow Herbs Indoors
Fresh cut herbs packaged in plastic and labeled organic are quite expensive at most grocery stores, especially during the winter. Try getting a glass cloche to grow them indoors. Many garden centers sell them, but they can also be found online or at places like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx for rock-bottom prices, though always hit or miss.
3. Cook What You’ve Got
I recently challenged everyone to dig deep through your pantries and clean out your refrigerators and freezers to put together meals with what you already have. You’ll be amazed at how creative you’ll become when you push yourself to use up ingredients already on hand. It saves so much time and money in the long run when this becomes a habit, including the gas it takes to get to the store and back.
4. Spend on Nutrient-Dense Foods
Filler foods like snacks do little to curb hunger and provide nutrition. Eat three solid meals a day that are packed with vitamins and minerals and you’ll feel less inclined to spend on vending machine temptations or quick convenience foods that leave you hungry soon after eating. Foods like oatmeal or eggs for breakfast, a hearty sandwich and fruit at lunch, and a colorful dinner plate that includes greens, protein and carbs will help quite a bit.
5. Invite People Over
It may sound counter-intuitive to invite more people over to eat at your table when you’re trying to save money, but it doesn’t have to be at all. Most of us tend to eat healthier when we offer to serve others because we put the nicest meals together when the intention is to share. Besides, sharing food over conversation is good for the soul and healthy for the mind. You can even make it a reoccurring event with family and friends to have a potluck once a month where everyone pitches in a healthy dish- this brings a lot of healthy food in one place without just one person responsible for cooking it all.
There’s no doubt that these economic times are tough and may not ease up for a while, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on eating well. These are just a few suggestions for how we can all do it at home as well as with others.
What are your suggestions for eating well in these tough economic times?
Definitely check out your local independent grocers. They moreso than not have better deals with local farmers than the big chains for produce and what they specialize in. I fell in love with a local Mid East grocer recently as pretty much can get all I need there and today fed my other half and seven of his new clients for a bit under $25 meat, produce, sides and all. They make their own breads there and got a few huge I don’t know what you call them but looks like naan for under $5. The guy making them pulled them off the stove fresh for me and I clapped thanking him as there was a pile already made. (always praise your local grocer folks when they hook you up:) I always remind my other half even though we are doing ok, the days when we were eating instant noodles saving for our future. When you are down and out financially, amazing what you can do with a small budget for food and instant noodles.
Excellent Tips, Mrs. V! I definitely agree with you on how we can be so creative with the ingredients that we already have in our pantries. Allhamdulilah it’s been two weeks and I didn’t have the need to buy extra groceries, because I tried making up recipes with the ingredients I had in my pantry. JazakAllahu khayran for the challenge and May Allah reward you for helping us get into a good habit of not wasting money!
Just to add a few:
1. Utilize the freezer!! Whenever certain items that we love go on sale, I buy a whole bunch and freeze them.
2. Try making your own bread… Although, I haven’t really had success with this. Know a good recipe to share? 🙂
3. Know which items you should definitely always buy organic, and which are probably okay to eat conventionally.
4. Just found this out yesterday, that Albertsons, Trader Joes, even Walmart and many other chains now have hormone-free(rBGH and rBST) milk. While, I it isn’t as good as organic milk (which promises from grass-fed cows, no antibiotics and the cows are generally treated better) The hormone-free milk is half the price of organic milk and at least it being hormone-free is much better then conventional… so it is an option for those struggling with high cost of organic milk.
5. There are so many fruit trees that are on public property that you have access to as free fruit. There are websites you can search for them. Also, at least here in CA there are so many neighbors of ours with gorgeous fruit trees and the shame is that the fruit all falls and rots because no one eats from it. My husband goes sometimes and asks neighbors to pay them $5 and pick a bag from their tree. Until now, they have all refused money just being happy that someone is enjoying the fruit. 🙂
I’ll try to cook as much as I can as cheaply as I can. That’s the best thing I can do for eating well in this though economic times. Really nice tips and perfect post thanks for your share.