5 Ways to Eat Healthier With Less of a Bite to Your Finances

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Crate with vegetables
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It seems the organic, all-natural, no blah-blah-blah craze isn't just a passing phase. Green smoothies, cleansing diets, and "caveman" recipes will continue to flood your Facebook for the next millennium, so get used to it. The question is, have you, too, succumbed? It's hard not to feel pressure to buy into the Whole Foods (WFM) frenzy.

"I mean, can you really put a price on your health?" asks your friend as you both grimace down a wheatgrass shot. Well, no: You can't put a price on your health (unless you're planning to sell one of your kidneys sometime soon). But you can decide how much you'll spend to eat healthy. Despite popular belief, you don't have to sabotage your budget to do it. And while my husband, Johnny, and I don't profess to be the healthiest humans on the planet (I'm scarfing chocolate as I type this), here are five ways we've found to eat healthier without selling our souls to Whole Foods:

1. Grow Your Own Food

Sometimes we're so wrapped up in the daily grind that we don't even register where our food comes from. So for those of you, like us, who need a refresher, here's how it works: it's grown... in the ground. You know what's crazier? Anyone can do it! For about $10, you can buy a few packets of seeds that will yield all the leafy, juicy, all-natural fruits and veggies your body craves. And for you eye-rolling apartment-dwellers, don't count yourselves out from this money-saving awesomeness for a second. Here's a list of 66 things you can grow on your terrace or windowsill.

2. Say Yes to Farmers Markets/Co-Ops/CSAs

If you're looking to save some major green on leafy greens, then farmers markets, co-ops, and CSAs are the way to go. And better yet, everything you get is local and in-season. Phrases like "genetically-modified" and "how am I eating strawberries in February?" can be banished from your vocabulary when you know you're eating produce grown just down the street. And did I mention you're helping your local community's economy at the same time? All in a day's purchase.

3. Choose Your Organic Produce Wisely

We've probably all felt the guilt of choosing cheaper produce instead of the organic selection that looks down its nose at it from just a display away.
While we'd love to buy organic all the time, sometimes our bank account reins in our healthy instincts. But don't fret: There's actually a lot of produce that's mostly pesticide-free being sold without the organic label and expensive price tag. Fruits and vegetables with thick skins -- think pineapple, avocado, mango, eggplant and watermelon, for example -- can be grown with little to no pesticides. Other plants are more resistant to pests in general -- and so require fewer pesticides -- including broccoli, sweet potato, onion, asparagus and cabbage.

4. Eat the Staples (Not the Metal Kind)

For those of you really serious about going natural, get away from of the world of prepackaged goods and get back to the basics: whole grains, beans and legumes. They're cheap and healthy, and you can stock up when they're on sale since these babies won't be expiring anytime soon. For whole-grain bread, channel your inner Martha Stewart, spend a few hours with your oven, and come away with a month's supply for a fraction of the price you'd pay for store-bought. Just freeze the loaves you don't need right away.

5. Have a Cow

Vegetarians may want to look away from this section. If you're an unabashed meat lover like Johnny or me, and you're looking for a cheaper alternative for grass-fed beef, there is hope!
Grass-fed beef is incredibly reasonable when you buy in bulk. Depending on your needs, you can purchase a quarter, half, or whole cow (pre-cut and packaged, of course) and freeze it for up to a year. We do suggest investing in a deep freezer before bringing it home. And if you don't see yourself eating that much beef in a year's time, grab a few beef-loving comrades and split your cuts up. Save the T-bone and ribs for us, please.

Eating healthy doesn't have to exist in a world where you're the only person who forgets to bring a reusable bag. So if you resent your whole paycheck going toward a healthier, now-penniless version of yourself, we hope we've helped ease that burden. And the weight of eating healthy can now refer to something other than your finances.

Joanna and Johnny are the writing duo behind OurFreakingBudget.com, a personal finance blog documenting the joys, pains and realities of living on a budget. Here are a few popular posts from their blog:

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12 Comments

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Lloyd

Great Response Kay, I second Everyything You Said ! I live at about the 3,700 Ft. Elevation and would Love to have a Garden, but unfortunately, my Home sit under the Branches of a few Dozen Pine and Cedar Tress Sheltering almost All of My Lot's Ground Area. Heck, if Weeds don't grow here, so a Yummy Tomato Plant wouldn't have a Chance.

Judging by your Avatar, I Feel that You are a Great Patriotic American Citizen. As a Result I would also Bet that you are a very Nice Looking Lady and Person that dresses Stunningly. And, I'm sure You are Smart and way above average in Intelligence and Keep Up with most Issues of Major Concern that Affect the U. S. and the World. My Type of American, One as I Am, Currently very Concerned about the Direction We have been taken over the past nearly Foive Years. If we were to continue down this Path for much longer, just having the abiolity to have a Garden will be in jeopady, no matter how poor we get from supporting the other half of the Nation. May God Help us All to get Rid of this Government Desire to Control Us All soon. We need to get back to the Basics Of Freedom in Most All that We Do, that includes Business as well and the Free Enterprise System once Again. Then and Only then will WeSee a Country with near Full Employment and the Return of the Middle Class means of living again where having a Garden will just e a Hobby and not a Near Necessity. God Bless and Keep on Riding the "White Horse to Success, Lloyd

December 04 2013 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sarah Gutierrez

Thank You for being My Friend

November 14 2013 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
majesticadorable

Education is still prominent in today's society and is needed more than ever
to survive in this economy. A degree is something no one can take away, it
freely given when earned.

November 14 2013 at 3:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Diane

Those are the MOST idiototic idea's ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 06 2013 at 9:18 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
alfredschrader

For some reason people are more interested in my chicken recipes than science.
So, for these people here is another chicken recipe: "Smothered Chicken".

Start by browning four chicken thighs in a large skillet. Add two whole peeled onions cut into quarters. With a spoon loosen up the onion pieces and spread to cook evenly.
Sautee until the onions are tan colored and the chicken is cooked through.
You can add a ground buillon cube, and flour or simply buy this as a country gravy mix to save time. Add the gravy mix and a cup of water and simmer gently until a nice gravy develops.

Arrange the chicken thighs on a fancy platter and "smother" them with the onions and gravy.
Serve with mashed potatoes and candied carrots.

November 06 2013 at 6:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kay

The person who wrote this has a few smashed up tomatoes for brains. You have to have room and good soil to grow veggies. And just what are you going to grow on you patio other than maybe a pepper plant, tomato plant or even egg plant. But just how much do they think a person will get from said plant. I know, I grew up on a farm where we had a large garden, we canned and froze all of our veggies. But that is gone, since my parents passed. I have tried to grow a few veggies where I live but because the soil is so poor nothing grows. And if you do have a garden, you better know how to can or invest in an expensive freezer to hold frozen veggies. The person who wrote this story does not know the real facts of a garden or anything about Organic vegetables! The name Organic has become a joke. Anyone can sell their wares at the local farmers market and claim they are Organic when they are not.

November 05 2013 at 4:31 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to Kay's comment
shenson1116

Just buy canned veggies and beans. The word "Organic" is now meaningless.

November 05 2013 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
aniconn

I find farmers' market prices are usually higher than the supermarket. No savings there.

November 05 2013 at 10:34 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
gkm628b

Here is something we could try; It is working with Helth care, we could fine the people that cannot afford Better quility food, and take away their lower quility food, Yea that's the ticket!.

November 05 2013 at 7:46 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gkm628b's comment
pikahereandthere

we could make more money fining the people who can't spell.

November 05 2013 at 7:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply