Cost Comparison and Making Time for Whole Healthy Foods

One of the challenges I find people come across when looking at switching over to whole foods is cost comparison, so I want to talk with you about this here and give you some tips.

We get into such a habit of purchasing packaged foods when eating a processed food focused diet that when we switch to a whole foods’ focus…we tend to go grab the pre-washed, pre-cut bags of veggies. The cost in purchasing those compared to buying the veggies unprepared is many times double because the company selling them is doing all the work for you. So, it really does benefit you financially to purchase that head of lettuce or bag of carrots and apples and cut them up at home. 

Sometimes thinking about doing that can be overwhelming, but when you get down to it and get a pattern going it generally only takes 15-20 minutes to wash and cut up what you need for the week when you get home. This is part of meal prepping. 

If you do choose prepped veggies and fruits…choose frozen so there isn’t a huge cost difference. Especially when it comes to out of season fruits and veggies, frozen can sometimes be a cheaper but still a healthy way to buy them. Just make sure that there are no added sauces, or spices in them as these can contain hidden sugars and preservatives that you are trying to avoid. This also adds extra cost when you can just add these at home during preparation. Many times, you can also find sales on frozen fruits and veggies and coupons that are available too.

Another way to save money when switching to whole foods is to use leftover meals wisely. Planning your meals for the week is essential to getting as many whole foods into your daily choices as possible. Here are a few examples:

  1. Making fajitas one evening for dinner and have left over sauteed’ veggies…Use them up in an omelet the next morning or warm them up and have some boiled eggs with them for breakfast. 
  2. Have some leftover rice and beans from taco night or another meal you had…Those leftovers can make a great soup mixed with some chicken or beef for a complex balanced meal. 

Getting more whole foods into your daily choices ultimately comes down to your strategy in the kitchen. If you take time to find good deals in the store and plan your meals accordingly so there is very little waste, you will absolutely notice a savings in your food bill within a couple of weeks…. even with eating more meals at home. When we eat out at fast food restaurants and for sure regular restaurants…we are focused on the convenience of being able to do that and we aren’t focused on how much money we could be saving by fixing these meals at home. You are paying double and triple what it would cost you at home to make these meals (yes that even includes McDonalds prices!) You are paying for convenience and time saving when you eat out. 

Time management

The best way to maximize your time as you are implementing healthy changes is to get in the habit of meal planning and prepping to help yourself stay on track. This is the biggest thing you can do to help see success in switching form processed to whole foods. 

  • If you know you’re going to be rushed for time, prepare your meal ahead of time. Perhaps pack yourself a sandwich (on whole grain bread) with a side of fruits or vegetables.
  • Stop at the grocery store and pick up some fresh fruit, a salad, nuts, fresh veggies, yogurt, or a healthy option from the deli counter. There are plenty of healthy options at the grocery store, including already prepared meals that you can easily grab and go but will provide more nutrients and benefits than a fast-food meal.
  • If you must go to a fast-food restaurant, opt for healthier choices by choosing “grilled” instead of “fried” and a whole grain bun instead of a white enriched bun.

By meal planning and prepping food for meals ahead of time you will have better control creating a balanced diet, reduce possibilities of cravings and have the opportunity to transform meals into enjoyable experiences. Simple meal planning strategies makes preparing meals less stressful, reduces waste of ingredients and you will discover and prepare new meals as well as save time and money. 

Here are 8 essentials of meal planning that will simplify your life.

  • Have goals and benefits in mind
  • Know your and your family’s preferences and needs
  • Co-create the plan with your family
  • Estimate amounts needed by household size
  • Consider dislikes of family members or yourself
  • Keep a list of favorite meals and find creative ways to make them healthier
  • Plan frequently (weekly or bi-weekly)
  • Share your plan with your family, get them involved in planning, shopping and prepping