In the work I do in promoting holistic health and fitness through the RBG FIT CLUB, I have run into the following sentiment more than a few times: “I want to eat healthier but it’s too expensive!”. Many people are interested in ways to upgrade their diet without breaking their bank. Well, I can dig it. And since I been striving to sustain the healthy grind in my life personally since way back in the food stamp days, I think I may have a few tips to share.
The following are 7 Ways to Eat Good While on a Hood Budget. But bottom line always remember, we can pay now or pay later (in suffering and doctor bills etc) when it comes to our dietary discipline and choices.
1. Choose Produce not Packages: People think eating healthy is about buying a lot of expensive boxes and packages of processed foods, but that isn’t the case at all.
The cheapest most nutrient dense food in a grocery store in the produce isle. Fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. Trying to buy costly packaged goods, potato chips and sugary juices and all kinds of over processed items, even at a health food store is when the budget starts to soar. When we feel we don’t have time to cook we often go for a lot of “quick fix” items like pizzas and pre-cut bags of French fries and stuff like that. That’s where the money adds up. But if you fill your basket with fresh greens and fruits and some basic staples like rice, noodles, beans you will not only have an optimal basket of nutritious foods … you will have saved a great deal of money of the food bill and subsequent doctor bills. Eat real foods and save real money. If you worried the fruits and veggies will spoil before you eat them, read on to number 2!
2. Cook Big and Save Some for Later: Cooking meals in large batches and freezing the leftovers for later in the week or month can save you a lot of time and money.
Instead of buying fast food or eating out at restaurants, or even cooking a full meal every time you get hungry, it’s way more cost effective and time saving and healthy for you to pull something out of the freezer and warm it up than it is to wash/chop/slice/boil/bake/wait in line/wait to be served etc.
Pre-preparing and freezing weekly sized portions of rice or salad choppings or beans etc will simplify your meal duties. Even if you have to do a little cooking you will still save money and time seven days a week. Spend an hour or so over the weekend like on a Sunday evening preparing food for the week. Then, during the week, all you have to do is pull something out of the freezer and heat it up. Them big Ziploc bags ain’t just for the D-boys! Lol
3. Soup Up your Options: Large vegetable soups over brown rice or whole grain noodles pack in vitamins and nutrients, fill you up and are easy to make and delicious. Also Bean burritos, chili, and bean soup can be easy to prepare, cheap and good for you. Going totally meatless a couple of times a week (or for good) also helps your budget and gives your palate a variety to enjoy. Frozen veggies, which are inexpensive, work great in Soups. Nothing compares to that good and filling, good feeling of a hot and hearty bowl of Soup. Cheap, packed with nutrients, easy to prepare. Its the new “Soup-er” food! Lol!
4. Make A Plan and See Where Ya Values Are:. In the hood, in all honesty, We spend a gang of money on cable, hair dos, sneakers, weed, parties expensive bottles of alcohol,video games, big screen tvs, rims, jewelry, strip club tricking, trendy name brand clothes, car accessories, headphones, cigarettes all kinds of overpriced things. But when it comes to our health, we often skimp and look for the cheapest food we can find.
But in our best interest, We have to value our health above all these other things, and make eating healthy a priority in terms of how we spend the resources we have. Makes no sense to be fronting like a rich person on the outside ,but in reality, in poor health on the inside, right? But it’s easy for any of us to make excuses without looking at at a budget, so that’s where budgeting comes in handy.
Budgets help us see where our money is really going not where we feel like its going. Budgeting is also a master ingredient to financial stability in general, so not only will it help identify funds that can be used toward more healthful food choices; its an essential tool to manage our financial responsibilities better in general. Usually when we make a budget we can see plenty of stuff we can do without to make room for healthier eating choices. You may say “shoot, I dont make enough money to budget it!” lol, but you don’t have to make a lot of money to benefit from budgeting. Budgeting helps what ever we make stretch farther and get more of what we truly value out of what we have. When we values ourselves more than our things we make healthier choices. Budget, prioritize and prosper.
5. Season your Food: Eat fruits and vegetables that are in season, that is! Otherwise you’ll be paying a much higher price. For example, if you live in the north east United States and you want some watermelon in the middle of the Winter of December, it’s gonna have to be shipped from where ever it is in season to your local market and you pay that extra cost. Also, eating foods that are current in their natural growing season helps strengthen your immune system for that season. Seasonal Fruits can be frozen and blended to smoothies. Frozen vegetables also can be used to make a stir fry. They’re convenient and they don’t spoil quickly like fresh fruits and veggies.
6. Join a Co-op or Local Community Garden: You get discounts on your groceries by being a member of grocery store co-ops. In exchange for your minimal volunteer work hours per month, you get your groceries at Co-op member’s only price. Same thing goes for community gardens. And not only that you get to learn a WHOLE lot about nutrition and health being in that kind of environment.
There are many urban farm movements popping up all over the place where folks are going back to the land, utilizing whatever small plots there are right in the hood, to grow food. Participating with these farms are awesome ways to educate ourselves on growing food. Also, there are usually harvest markets where the food is sold for really affordable prices and you can get first dibs by being a community member. Places like DTown Farms and Freedom Freedom in Detroit and Truly Living Well Farms and Habesha Gardens in Atlanta are great examples of gardens in the hood that you can google and “dig” into! If you have even the smallest plot of land in your yard growing your own food from heirloom seeds (non-gmo varieties) is also another way to save on the grocery bills while mastering a very useful and fun survival skill.
My wife Afya, has been a great source of inspiration in this area in our household. You can Follow her instagram (@AfyaIbomu) blog to see our latest harvests. And last but certainly not least….
7. Drink more water. Many times we think we are hungry, it may be actually a sign of thirst.
The fact that it is recommended by holistic healers and medical experts alike that we drink half our body weight in ounces of water each day, it’s safe to say many of us are chronically dehydrated and as Rocko’s song lyric says “we don’t even know it”. When we are drinking enough water it curbs our appetite so we don’t over eat. Drinking water also says us money on all the sugary drinks on the market that are often what we choose to wet our whistles due to the drug effect of the high sugar, high fructose corn syrup content of most beverages sold in the hood. We can save our money and our internal organs by saying no to the liquid sugar caffiene crack juice aka sodas and artificial energy drinks and just sip on nature’s good old original elixir -H20!
oh…Bottle water getting too expensive? Get a basic filter for your tap, some for as low as $20 bucks and like Kendrick Lamar’s song says “pour up, drank!”