Sometimes eating healthy can feel expensive. There are definitely strategic ways to lessen the expense, but it is reality that eating well will cost more money than eating unhealthy food. It is totally worth it. I want my money going toward real, healthy food. That being said, I don’t live in a fantasy world where cash is flowing from my pockets. So, here are some of my guidelines for shopping well to eat well, as well as an inexpensive, healthy recipe for Red Lentil Cakes!
1. Veggies first.
The first thing I put in my cart is always veggies. I make sure the majority of my spending is going to vegetables (especially greens and sweet potatoes) and then I can add more from there.
2. Reduced for quick sale meat.
I pretty much only buy meat reduced for quick sale. This means I don’t get to follow cravings or even certain recipes I want to try. I find what is on sale and work with it! (I'll also add that there is discount produce at the Coop as well! Unlike meat that can be thrown in the freezer, this stuff usually needs to be used right away. So, it can be great if you're ready to do that! Just be careful you don't go nuts and end up with veggies going bad. I've done that.)
3. No (or hardly any) “snack food.”
This is a big one. I rarely buy pre-made snack food such as chips, popcorn, or granola bars. Crackers might be the exception, but even those I buy only if they are on sale. Healthy snack food is SOmuch more affordable to make yourself.
4. Minimal baking of treats.
I keep my baking to a minimum. I like to experiment every once in a while with healthy desserts, but other than that, I rarely bake treats. The ingredients really add up for something that is a nonessential. For me, before I spend the money on baking ingredients, I first need to be sure I have enough for my veggies and protein.
5. Shop sales.
This might seem obvious but really pay attention to how often you do it. I like to do the majority of my shopping at the Whole Foods Coop and there is no way I could do that if I didn’t shop the sales. When things I really like are on a great sale, I stock up. And when it comes to health food, the Coop is definitely the cheapest place in town. If you hit those sales, the deals can be incredible.
6. Buy in bulk.
Did you know you can buy almost anything in bulk at the Whole Foods Coop? I’m not talking about the bulk aisle, although that’s wonderful too. I’m talking 20 lb bags of flour, that sort of thing. Some of my favorite items to buy this way are oats, spelt flour, and canned coconut milk.
Eating healthy takes preparation and diligence, but it is so worth it! And once you get going, the rhythm becomes routine.
Red Lentil Cakes & Yogurt Dill Sauce
45 min, Makes 15
Ingredients for Red Lentil Cakes:
3/4 c red lentils
1/2 c chopped onion
1 carrot, chopped
2 1/2 c chicken or veggie broth
1 T curry paste
1/2 c oats
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 c buckwheat flour
- Place all ingredients, except eggs and flour, in a large pot and simmer on stove until lentils are soft, about 20 min. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a blender. Add 2 eggs and 1 c buckwheat flour and blend until mostly smooth.
- Heat oven to 375.
- Scoop about 1/3 c lentil mixture onto cookie sheet with parchment paper on it. You should be able to fit about 10 on a regular cookie sheet.
- Bake for 25 min.
Ingredients for Yogurt Dill Sauce
1/2 c plain yogurt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t salt
1 T minced fresh dill
Stir all ingredients together in bowl. Use as dipping sauce or drizzle over lentil cakes. If you want to make the salad above, I used mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers and drizzled them with a little olive oil. I then added the lentil cakes and did a generous drizzle of the Cucumber Dill Sauce.