When you decide to start eating healthy, the diet change often comes with a bit of sticker shock. Healthy food — spoiler alert — can be pricey. Whether you opt for organic, grass-fed, sugar-free, or any other type of dietary choices, chances are your grocery bill total will go up. But there are things you can do to minimize the hit to your budget and still stay healthy.
A new study, recently published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, looked into the exact affordability of a healthy eating diet, especially for low-income families.
The study looked at the diets and lifestyle of families in the Mechoopda Indian Tribe (MIT) and how they approached eating healthy within their communities, and found that with a few new habits, and armed with shopping strategies, the families of four were able to make do on an average daily cost of $25.
And their secret? Surprise — it’s planning!
First, the study participants created two weeks of daily menus. Importantly, they did not decide to meal plan each individual day, instead choosing to plan out their meals, and therefore the shopping they needed to do, on a biweekly basis.
“These menus showed that a healthy diet on a budget was achieved by balancing daily targets over two weeks, not every day. This focuses healthy eating on balance rather than being deprived,” says Dr. Karen M. Jetter, the study’s lead author, in a press release.
Second, they shopped in bulk. Now, shopping in bulk — especially for pantry staples that you reuse on a regular, if not daily, basis — is not a complete secret. Experts have long urged us that if we’re eating healthy, we should also be taking advantage of bulk buys.
Plus, having what we know we’re going to be eating on-hand means that we generally reduce our food waste — another great environmental benefit of eating healthy.
Starting and sticking to a healthy eating plan may not be an easy feat, but as long as you take into account some of the best secrets of eating healthy from around the world, you’re sure to find success.