I believe, thanks to TV and movies, people have begun to associate eating good tasting, healthy food with spending a lot of money. I think the connotation is that fine food can only be found in fancy, expensive restaurants. That notion couldn’t be further from the truth.
When it comes to spending money, it really doesn’t matter if you are talking about buying a car, a smart phone, or buying groceries. You can spend a lot of money to get top of the line or spend a lot less on something that is going to meet your needs and make you happy.
Don’t get me wrong, quality IS important. What I am saying is that not everything you buy needs to be the best you can get, especially if it means not leaving enough money to pay your other bills.
Here are a few simple facts that will help convince you that you don’t have to spend a fortune to eat well. As fruits and vegetables grow, they accumulate energy from the sun and earth. They have maximum nutrient content when first picked. The longer they sit around on store shelves or your kitchen counter, the less nutritious they are. When they undergo processing, they lose even more nutrients.
The more food is processed, the less energy and important vitamins, minerals, protein, and amino acids the food is going to retain. Food manufacturers know this, that’s why their products have to be fortified with extra nutrients. By the time you get that box of processed food home, it doesn’t contain enough nutrients to fuel a hungry body. Artificial flavors and colors are added to fool our brain into thinking we are getting real food, but the body is not deceived.
Our bodies were made to eat food picked from the tree, vine, and from the garden not out of a box or wrapper. Processed food deprives our body of the energy and nutrients it needs to grow, build, strengthen and repair itself. In short, processed food leaves our body unsatisfied and hungry. You will get many more miles per gallon from fresh, whole foods than any kind of processed junk food—which is especially important if you have kids.
Locally grown, organic fresh produce would be considered top of the line; so would organic, free range, pastured, antibiotic free, grass-fed meats. If you can afford it, by all means, go for it. Most of us though have a bit smaller budget for groceries. While fresh is best, frozen is the next best. And you can find some organic brands for a pretty good price. Last on the list is canned. Once again, you can find organic canned vegetables and fruit if you want it. As long as these products are minimally processed, you can be sure that they are superior to processed foods.
Speaking of meat, fresh is best. If you can get a group of people together to buy meat from local farmers in bulk, you can get some really good prices. Avoid canned and processed meats because they contain toxic preservatives such as nitrites and nitrates.
Try seasoning your food with a variety of spices, butter, and even cheese (real cheese, not processed cheese products). Simple homemade sauces and gravies can also add amazing flavor to meals. One box of chicken stock or beef broth incorporated into a meal can completely change the flavor or help to create an entirely new recipe.
One last fact I want to share with you is a misconception about meat that has grown out of the prosperity of our country. Our body does not need meat in every meal, or even every day. Vegetables have plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber to fuel our body and keep our tummy satisfied. Beans and legumes are loaded with protein, as are whole grains. If you doubt what I am saying, do an internet search for vegetarian and vegan body builders. While I don’t promote being vegan, I think that for a season, there could be benefits to it. Practicing mindfulness eating can help you decide what is right for you.