Although you know good nutrition is like quality fuel for your car, spending a few extra dollars for high quality fruits and vegetables can be a difficult habit to adopt. These 5 tips can help meet the needs of both your body and your budget.
Understand & Prioritize Nutrition
How important is good nutrition to your health ? Answering these questions will help you determine how much money you are willing to invest in your food on a weekly basis. Once you decide that your health is worth investing in, you’re buying and eating habits will change accordingly.
Purchase, Prep & Store Your Food
Set your weekly schedule so that you visit the grocery store on specific days: ideally Tuesday and Friday. Block out time in your personal schedule to wash, dice and package your food into tupperware or baggies. Write the specific day and whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner on each package and store in your freezer or refrigerator. The convenience of grab and go packages will increase your intake of high quality fruits and vegetables by 100%. It is rarely the lack of desire to eat healthy, but rather convenience that drives you to fast food.
Eat your Food
You have taken the time to purchase & prep your food, now you have to sit down and eat the food! Just like the time that you carved out of your schedule to purchase and prepare your food, you now need to block out time to sit down and consume your food. Digestion begins inside your mouth. By sitting down and avoiding any distractions (TV, iPhone, computer, etc.) you will chew your food more completely making digestion easier inside your stomach which results in higher absorption of nutrients and water in a shorter period of time (because the food pieces are smaller and easier to break down).
Avoid Fast Food
You have been lead to believe that the dollar menu at a fast food chain is “cheap” eating. Well the marketing is both right and wrong. The food is cheap when you look at the quality – some fast food restaurants use meat quality that is so low, it literally says “Safe for human consumption on the boxes”. However, it is NOT cheap when you add up all the add on features to a combo meal, on average you spend nearly five ($5.00) dollars per person every time you run through the fast through line and what you purchased is gone in ten minutes or less. If you headed to your grocery store and purchased $5.00 worth of fruits and/or vegetables, you will be consuming both a high quality food item along with purchasing a lot more food. Now when you spend $5.00, you are getting both “good food” and “good quality” for the same $5.00 that can last you through two or more meals.
Learn to Read Labels
There’s nothing frustrating than finding out that you’ve been spending your money on high quality fruits and vegetables that you thought were healthy, only to find out that they are not. Many labels use terms like natural, raw, and whole wheat; however, they are not regulated and can be used to sell products at a higher price. By reading labels you can determine which foods live up to their labels and which are just clever marketing.
Don’t Shop Hungry & Without a List
When your blood sugar is low (i.e. hungry), your ability to make rational decisions is gone. When you shop in this mental state, you are more likely to purchase items you normally wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) resulting in a higher food bill with lower quality. While shopping with a full stomach of high quality fruits, vegetables and low fat protein while purchasing ONLY the items on your shopping list will result in a lower food bill at the checkout register. When you get home, your refrigerator is stocked with exactly what you need to prepare your high quality meals and snacks.