Dr. Fuhrman Dr. Fuhrman

Healthy eating on a budget

It can be hard, eating healthy on a budget. Sure, fast food is very expensive as well, but calorie for calorie, almost nothing is cheaper than a 200 grams bag of no-name potato chips. Here are some tips that help you eat healthier without going broke.

  • Go for cheap healthy products:
    • Cabbage: super healthy and can last for days.
    • Canned tomatoes: the canning process actually increases lycopene -- one of the antioxidants in tomatoes.
    • Dried beans: very good for you (if you soak them first). If you are not completely broke, consider investing in a pressure cooker and/or a slow cooker.
    • Oatmeal: steel cut oats are better, but if you are looking for cheap and still healthy grains, oatmeal can't be beat.
    • Frozen fruit and vegetables: There are often more vitamins in frozen vegetables than in vegetables that have been shipped all around the world. Of course fresh local produce is still preferred, also from an environmental point of view, but you can only eat so much cabbage and berries have many health benefits.
  • Make your own everything:
    • Do not buy pre washed/chopped vegetables.
    • Pick and eat wild greens and fruits.
    • See what you can make instead of buy. If you regularly drink soy milk or eat tofu, consider buying a soy milk maker to make your own. If you eat bread, consider a bread machine. (You can, of course, also make soy milk and bread without those fancy machines.)
    • Grow your own fruits and vegetables. Start with herbs or tomatoes. Strawberries are also easy. If you have a garden you may want to check out how contaminated the soil is first.
    • Sprout. Sprouts are very healthy and you do not need any expensive materials to make them.
    • Make your own snacks. Air popped popcorn, soy nuts or roasted chickpeas are cheap and healthy.
  • Prepare meals in advance and freeze them in individual portions. This makes sure you have no 3/4 full cans of tomato paste, or half lemons left, and it helps control your portions.
  • Buy when it is cheap. If you have or can afford a freezer you can save a lot of money by buying produce in season (this is also when it is likely to be less sprayed with pesticides) and freeze it. Alternatively, you may want to learn how to can.
  • Check out other stores. Middle Eastern stores sometimes have very good prices for beans, nuts, dates, dried tomatoes, etc. I have heard that farmers markets are great too. Maybe there is a co-op where you live.
  • Don't buy (everything) organic. The most important thing you can do for the environment is to eat a plant-based diet. In my country, 100 grams of organic broccoli cost the same as 400 grams of conventional broccoli. It is better to eat 400 grams of non-organic broccoli, than it is to eat only 100 grams of organic broccoli. Check out for a list of foods that are most often contaminated.
  • Drink plain tap water.
  • Eat less.

March 28, 2006