Society has set up the stereotype that poor people have to eat low quality, cheap food and wealthier people get to eat organic, quality food. You go into a neighborhood with predominantly lower income and see all the fast food chains. In a higher income neighborhood, you might find nice restaurants and high-end grocery stores like Whole Foods. This doesn't mean that lower-income families have to fall into any stereotype. If you want to eat healthy and you're on a strict budget, you can do it. It just takes some thought, research, and planning. I eat almost 100% organic. I make sure that my nonorganic choices are certified GMO free, and that my meat is humane certified (I grew up on a small farm and try not to support the giant meat industry that exploits all life). In spite of all of this, I do not make a lot of money. I would say I'm on the bottom spectrum of the middle class.
My husband and I make a healthy grocery list of essentials every week. For us, it looks something like this:
- Coconut oil
- Pasta or rice
- Bread or rice cakes
We first designate items into 2 lists: one for Costco, and the other for Whole Foods. We usually try to add another fruit and another vegetable as well, which changes each week. If we buy something in bulk, such as potatoes or squash, it lasts longer than a week. After a few weeks have passed, we have more variety. You can also freeze things like bananas and broccoli if you buy produce in large quantities - this will allow them to last longer.
We buy condiments at Whole Foods (since Costco doesn't really offer organic options and they're not very expensive). We like to alternate between beef and fish if we have extra money, which we always purchase at Whole Foods so it's organic, grassfed and humane, or wild caught. Costco also carries wild caught seafood if you can afford to purchase a large quantity in one week.
Buying some items in bulk if you can is a lifesaver. It seems like it costs more all at once, but these types of purchases will last you for a month or longer. Buying smaller items at a regular grocery store is usually wiser. I like to create a shopping list that gives me options of mixing and matching food items so that we don't get bored throughout the week. I also like to add a new item each week for variety's sake.
Keep your eyes out for coupons and sales and don't be afraid to take advantage of them. It's food. It's nourishment. It's important. Don't feel guilty about buying quality. What you put in your body fuels everything you do, so it SHOULD matter. And enjoying it helps your digestion stay calm and on track.
This post about making a healthy grocery list on a budget was penned by PumpUp member @bodysoulspiritfitness, a teacher and movement artist with a passion for healthy living and adventure. Follow her blog here.