Food is fuel for our bodies to survive, so just like your car needs fuel to go, you need to eat. It’s what you eat, however, that makes a difference. Eating well means eating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc, which are often more expensive than packaged foods with tons of preservatives, salt, sugar, and things we can’t easily pronounce. They aren’t good for us but seem too good to pass up when we’re in a hurry to get food on the table for our families.
Historically, when food prices rise, people eat less and weigh less, but when food prices go down, many people will gain weight, which may explain the rise in obesity because food prices were so much lower from 1978 through the 1990’s. Unfortunately, the prices of junk foods are falling while the prices of complex carbohydrate foods which provide energy and help us maintain our weight are climbing.
The fact is it is getting very expensive to feed our families nutritiously because some of the healthy foods we once took for granted are now just too expensive. There’s no telling when food prices will go down. For many people this means eating less and/or eating what’s on sale. Many people cut back on eating in restaurants when times are tough or stop purchasing foods that are just too expensive, but if you shop smart you can still eat well on a tighter budget without compromising the health of your family.
Consider your diet and lifestyle and the changes you can make right now. Consider a diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates which is healthier and less expensive than a diet rich in meat consumption. Eating at home really is less expensive and can often be healthier. You can feed an entire family lasagna, for example, for the same price as one dish in many restaurants. If it’s the soft lighting and music you need, dim the lights, plug in your ipod and get out the checkered tablecloth. Why not make use of the dining room and china you’re saving for a special occasion. It may be more work but what occasion is more special than a wonderful meal with the people you love?
Go to the market with a basic list of staple foods and an open mind for meals and snacks rather than a set shopping list and look for nutritious foods your family loves that are on sale. Sometimes you can purchase items that are usually very expensive on sale at a good price because they have too many, got a great deal, or they are just in season and plentiful. Make it a fun treat to have artichokes, pineapple or your favorite whole grain cereals because they were a good price. Anything you didn’t purchase this time may possibly be on sale next time, allowing you to watch your spending, eat healthy and consume a variety of foods, even foods you’ve never tried, rather than just sticking to favorites. Variety, is not only the spice of life, it helps you get the nutrients you need without tiring of the same old thing. Try shopping at local farmer’s markets and you’ll find food that is fresh and less expensive because it is locally grown and you’re not paying high transportation costs and are supporting your local farming community. Involve your family in food preparation and cleanup. Kids like to be involved and should learn how to prepare a meal and clean up. This will make it fun to prepare fresh, wholesome foods to keep your family healthy.
If you think you can’t afford to take the time or spend the money to eat well, think again. Food preparation may take longer but at least you’ll be in the comfort of your own home rather than at work trying to make more money so you can wait in line at your favorite restaurant. For just a few more pennies to buy wholesome foods, you might just find you feel healthier and avoid the even greater rising cost and stress of medical care for conditions such as diabetes and heart disease which are often caused or worsened by poor nutritional habits.