SALT LAKE CITY — With food flying off the shelves in record time, many may wonder if it's possible to eat healthily during a crisis. They might also wonder how they can do this without breaking the bank.
What many people don’t realize is that eating well is not only affordable but often cheaper than the standard American diet. And luckily, during these difficult days, the healthier food is often what remains on the shelf at the grocery store.
When we think of health, we might think of superfoods that can be quite expensive. These specialty items are usually nothing more than clever marketing and are not necessary for our health. But according to Utah-based Khorasan Mills owner, Greg Hall, healthy foods don’t have to be expensive. In fact, if you do it right you can save up to 50% on certain items, he says.
There are many healthy items that are not difficult to get and are extremely cheap per calorie. Many people don’t realize how many options there are for healthy eating. Some examples include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Dried fruit
- Frozen fruit
- Frozen vegetables
These items can last for a long time and, when properly stored, won’t go bad.
An estimated 95% of the population is fiber deficient. That means chances are you aren't consuming the recommended amount of fiber. Fiber is important for a variety of functions but is especially crucial for digestion. The best way to increase your fiber intake is to eat more beans, lentils, grains and fruits and vegetables.
The good news is some of the foods highest in fiber are the ones mentioned above. So, these staples can help you meet your health goals as well.
Though there are many ways you can save money on food items, these are the top three tips I've seen work for my clients, saving them hundreds of dollars a month.
1. Ditch the animal products
Food waste is estimated to make up 30-40% of the food supply in the United States, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. A recent report found that the average American family of four wastes approximately $1,800 worth of food per year.
Though unused fruit and vegetables are the top contributors to food waste, animal products — like meat, dairy, fish and eggs — make up a large portion of the total waste. Getting rid of these foods in your refrigerator would eliminate a large portion of the total food waste in your home. This change in and of itself could help you save hundreds of dollars a year by eliminating food waste.
Animal products also cost much more per calorie than similar plant foods. For instance, a comparison of beef (before Coronavirus-related price hikes) at $1.16 per 3.5 oz. and lentils at $0.33 per cup, illustrates the cost is significantly cheaper. With less cholesterol and more fiber and iron, the health benefits are superior as well. A comparison of eggs and tofu shows similar results. With nearly identical protein and calorie composition, tofu is significantly cheaper. One local store carried organic tofu for $1.20 per 16 oz. block, while organic free-range eggs were approximately $3.99 for 16 oz.
2. Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money as you can often find products for less than half the price versus buying it in smaller quantities. For instance, at one local grocery store a bag of organic oats costs $4.99 per pound, but buying a bulk bag of 25 pounds of organic oats costs $0.99 per pound.
"The smaller the package the more expensive the grain," Hall said. "(A) 50-pound bag is 10-20% cheaper than a 25-pound bag. This is especially true when you get into small bags. You can save almost 50% by going bigger."
He went on to explain that another benefit of buying local and in bulk is that you don’t have to pay shipping prices. Hall said a customer "will save more money, more quickly" by using this method.
Bulk buying not only allows your purchasing power, but they also store well and are a great emergency food supply for times like these. Hall recommends that families buy 50-pound bags in a variety of grains to maximize their health benefits and savings.
3. Don’t be afraid of frozen
Some people might be afraid of losing nutrients by eating frozen food instead of fresh food. However, the truth is that the nutrients are barely changed when we buy frozen produce. And oftentimes, frozen products are a fraction of the cost as fresh.
For instance, one local store has organic strawberries for sale at $4.79 per pound right now. However, frozen organic berries are priced at $2.38 per pound. This price comparison shows how you can save half the price on the same foods just by buying frozen.
Frozen foods are also beneficial because they do not spoil quickly and can be used in a time crunch. Pulling out frozen fruit and blending it into a smoothie can save a significant amount of money when compared to going out to eat.
When considering money saving techniques, remember real food is the least expensive option. It will save you money in the store and at the doctor's office. Real food is always the best option for your health. Employing these money-saving techniques can make it more affordable than ever.
Editor’s Note: Anything in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended, nor should it be interpreted, to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition; Any opinions, statements, services, offers, or other information or content expressed or made available are those of the respective author(s) or distributor(s) and not of KSL. KSL does not endorse nor is it responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any opinion, information, or statement made in this article. KSL expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the content of this article.