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January already … the calendars have been changed and the time for acting on our good intentions for the year is here!  Improving health and diet as well as finances are typically high on Canadians’ New Year’s resolution lists; statistically, however, that resolve usually lasts about as long as the Christmas meal leftovers.  If you’re determined to make THIS the year you conquer both, our healthy eating “foodie” friend Elizabeth Nyland has shared with us some tips on how to eat healthy while sticking to a budget:

First things first:  Anyone can start immediately by simply removing most or all of the processed foods from our diets and returning to a more simple way of eating.  Since processed and prepared foods cost much more than whole foods, you’ll probably notice a big difference to your grocery bill straight away.  Begin eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water and getting outside for a walk once in a while.  If those things are already on your “done” list and you are looking to go a step further, try researching some of the more popular “lifestyles” around.  Could you see yourself as a vegan, a vegetarian, a pescatarian, an ancestral eater or maybe your own blend of them?  Find what works best for you and get to it.

Things to look for:  When changing to a healthier lifestyle, the first steps are usually to add more fruit and veg, but these guys can get pretty pricey in the winter.  To keep costs down try local farmers markets for deals on produce that’s in season.  Buy meat from local farmers and purchase it in larger quantities.  If you’re a small household see if you can share an order with a friend or family member; some local farms will sell you their meat in sides, quarters, eighths or even smaller amounts as long as you pick up.  If you have the time to check flyers every week, do so.  Often costly everyday items like organic coffee or local apples go on sale for a few days, so nab them when they’re discounted.  Some popular items that you can use in your kitchen (such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits, flours and spices) can be bought on the cheap in bulk since extra packaging is expensive.

Bear in mind:  If you’re purchasing in bulk be careful whom you buy from.  Some items can go off very easily at room temperature, negating the savings.  Try to find stores that sell bulk but keep perishable items in the coolers.  Also be mindful of proper storage once you get your foodstuffs home.  If you’re unsure, ask a clerk or look up the information online.  When it comes to produce, don’t buy it out of season at all as it’s often brought from faraway places and those gas dollars are added to the end cost to you, the consumer.  Example: Tomatoes in January, probably not a good idea.  They will be less filled with all the healthy nutrients (having travelled from so far) and will cost you a pretty penny to boot.

Keep on track:  A great way for anyone to stay on budget while eating healthy is to plan out your meals — all of them!  Buy only what you need to keep your pantry stocked with regular items and the ingredients you need for each meal of the week, shopping once a week if possible.  Plan out breakfasts, lunches and dinners, as well as snacks.  Some people find it helpful to make large amounts of food on Sundays and then freeze portions for brown bag lunches for the rest of the week.  Whatever you do, don’t go shopping when you’re hungry or without a list, and be sure you know what your budget is.  Buying things you don’t need or didn’t plan for is an easy way to overspend.

Whether you’re eating vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten free, high fibre, low fat or otherwise, it all comes down to what works best for you. Think delicious nutrition at a low cost is impossible?  You’re in for a surprise!  Cost-effective, health-conscious eating can improve both your budget AND your physical well-being.  The first steps are up to you.

About our guest blogger:
Elizabeth Nyland has been obsessing over the food that goes into her mouth for over 15 years. What started as a passion for anything food became an all-out obsession with the local food movement. When it came to feeding her two children, Elizabeth became determined with sourcing everything she could that was seasonal, local and organic. A passion was born that needed to be expressed, and her blog, Guilty Kitchen was born. Blogging about food, her children and her life on the West Coast grew into yet another passion for photography. You can find Elizabeth around Victoria snapping photos of everything tasty, funky or just plain cool looking.

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