How to Afford Living Healthier


#1

This is probably going to sound like a snob thread, and I don't intend it to at all, but after reading the coupon thread I am sitting here wondering how to make healthier living more affordable.

I tried couponing a few times, but honestly, we don't use the things that have coupons. :shrug: We don't eat out of boxes or cans, with few exceptions like Annie's Mac and Cheese, Chex cereal (bc it's gluten free), granola, black beans, chickpeas.

The only bread we buy, and eat in moderation because we don't eat sandwiches, is Ezekiel bread. We buy lots of veggies and fruits, and no lunch meats or processed things like hotdogs or bologna.

We buy eggs.

The kids love frozen pops, but I don't like them eating the artificial colors, so I buy spendier ones that, of course, have no coupons.

I am very anti-chemicals when it comes to soaps, so I only buy Dr Bronner's for all our shampoo/bath soap/shaving gel/showering/face washing needs. (California Baby for the kids).

We don't even buy regular pancake mixes as we use coconut flour.

We don't buy fluoridated toothpaste.

And, of course, most of these things have no coupons for them. :(

Soooo.....how do people who want to live healthier do so without going broke?

I need some real advice. Do you make your own soap? Laundry detergent? Do you buy a whole cow at some point and keep it in the freezer? DH wants to hunt deer and wild hog this fall so most of our meat would be free.

Do you have a garden? Does it provide your family with all the fruits and veggies you need, or do you barely get anything out of it, post bird and bug? :)

What about meals? Yesterday I made, for dinner, a black bean soup full of diced tomatoes, onions, green peppers and corn. We ate it with a dollop of plain yogurt on top, and some yummy organic cornbread....delicious! I figured when it was all said and done, the entire meal cost us about $6, to feed 6 of us.

So if you've got cheap meal ideas, share those, too!

I refuse to go back to eating the way we used to, so I need some help brainstorming some affordable solutions.


#2

I will be watching this thead, because I am just starting out trying to live healthier… So, unfortunately, I don’t have any advice for you!

I did just watch a show yesterday where they said that up until the 1940’s or so, when fast food started spreading like wildfire and food became more and more processed and efficient, people spent about 18% of their income on food. Nowadays, we spend about 9%of our income on food, but have tripled our spending on medical bills. I used to be upset that healthier food was so much pricier than unhealthy food, but now I understand that wholesome food has always cost a good amount. I will have to cut back on other areas of my life, and make healthy food more important.


#3

Great thread!

I am completely in agreement. I live pretty much the same way. I tend to think that the extra money I spend on food and hygiene saves me money on future health care.

I will try to brainstorm and, hopefully others do too. We can share our ideas! :)


#4

I was just pondering this exact same question today! So I look forward to other people’s responses. We also try to eat healthy, unprocessed foods as much as possible. The truth is, I think it will always be more expensive than alternatives, but we’ve made a conscious decision to be OK with that because it pays off so much in the long run (superior health, etc.).

Here’s what I try to do:

  1. Grow herbs in pots on the patio. Spray with a natural insecticide. As you know, herbs are so expensive and they go bad quickly! You can try to make and grow other things but I for one don’t have time for much, so I focus on the low maintenance items.

  2. Buy the healthy stuff but do try to plan around the stuff that’s on sale and in season. Like you said, you won’t find many coupons, but that doesn’t mean certain healthy foods aren’t cheaper than others during certain times of the year. You could check into local crop shares as well.

  3. Prioritize which products are worth paying more for than others. For example, I have read it’s more important to buy organic apples, peaches, etc. where the skin is exposed to chemicals, but less important to buy organic for oranges and fruits with the extra protective layer.


#5

We spend more than I would like to on food, but as grasscutter says, it saves money on healthcare. As a nurse I talk to many people who can barely afford their medications, so they eat cheap cereal, potatoes and hamburger helper. That only pushes them further into diabetes, fibromyalgia, knee pain from over weight, and more.
Not to say that everyone who has a health condition has brought it on himself, that's certainly not true, but this society may be one of the unhealthiest ever in terms of diet and lack of exercise, and the medical costs are out of control.
I quit buying soda pop for my husband, and he lost about 10 lbs. He swore he had to have it for his heartburn -- but he's just as happy with Costco Zero Calorie Vitarain.

We eat mostly vegetables, some fruit, and some protein in each meal. So eggs or yogurt with nuts for breakfast, or french toast for the kids; salad or soup for lunch; broccoli or mixed veggies & chicken, pork, beef stew for dinner.The vegetables are the main meal and meat or fish is a side dish; we're not out farming so don't need as much protein as others might.
We take vitamins but no prescribed medications.


#6

I used to live in an area with lots of Mormons and their “church ladies” bake sprouted grain breads, bagels etc. similar to this and if you find a group in your area maybe you can learn. EZ is expensive so it might pay to make your own if you can find the ingredients locally.

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The kids love frozen pops, but I don’t like them eating the artificial colors, so I buy spendier ones that, of course, have no coupons.

these are one thing you can make at home from whole fruit and a good blender. Vitamix or similar makes the smoothest puree but a regular blender would be so so.

Vitamix also mixes bread dough so if you can go on their website and find a used reconditioned one it will be worth the investment. I got it when I was still grinding flour & nuts and making bread, and we also use it for soups, we have used it almost every day for over 25 years.

if you are trying for gluten free my best advice is simply don’t try to substitute gf for regular products, just drop them altogether. GF always seems so expensive for what it is.

Do you buy a whole cow at some point and keep it in the freezer? DH wants to hunt deer and wild hog this fall so most of our meat would be free.

DD buys a side from an Amish farmer who has raised in on grass locally and butchers and packages it for the freezer. She is using up the last of it this month for her family of 6, and will order another side probably first of October. The have another freezer in their garage and keep it stocked and this provides the most savings.

Her uncles and in-laws hunt so they could have game if they wanted it, don’t think they care for it, but of all options it is probably the healthiest. I am speaking tonight to my source for venison, since he knows I am looking for it he keeps me in mind when he hunts and fishes (son of a friend). I just found a source for local free range eggs, but they are not “in season” right now, probably too hot, hens are not laying.

DD does have a garden which the kids take care of, mostly for lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and other than some frozen tomato sauce does not make that much of an impact except of course the flavor is so much better. They are surrounded by farmer’s markets so it is not such an issue as good local produce is plentiful and affordable.

I refuse to go back to eating the way we used to, so I need some help brainstorming some affordable solutions.

I am with you 100%. What you spend more for now–natural, locally grown, organic when possible, unprocessed foods–will pay huge dividends in good health down the road. Health care is as big an expense, at least, as groceries so anything that contributes to health saves big time.

a benefit to the wild game is that the slow cooking methods suitable for it are also the healthiest.


#7

Here’s what we do:

  1. joined a CSA (community sponsored agriculture). Basically, we get a giant delivery of whatever veggies a farm is producing each week. It’s pricey up-front (700 a season for a full share; we split the share with friends), but REALLY saves in the long run, especially if you can or freeze. Things like bell peppers - we got 5 last week; each colored pepper would be 3.99 in the store.

  2. chest freezer. for veggies and whatever meat’s on sale (wild-caught salmon is now ridiculously cheap, so we bought a lot).

  3. We don’t eat lots of meat. If we do, it’s not the ‘main event’, so to speak.

  4. we use Charlie’s Soap for our detergent - the powder is pretty cheap. We do not use fabric softeners, dryer sheets, etc. We use dryer balls. Once you get used to it, everything else feels chemical-y and slick and nasty.

  5. We don’t use soap; I use sugar scrub for hydration. You can actually make your own; I get mine from a local woman for cheap. Seriously, we don’t use soap (other than for hands and stuff). I can only assure you we do not smell weird, and everyone has much better skin for it. You can do vinegar shampoo and stuff; I am too vain and buy stuff.

  6. I make all our cleaning solutions. They get everything just as clean, and we don’t have to deal with nasty chemicals. I use a mix of water, vinegar, Dr. Bronner’s, borax, and lime oil.

  7. Buy at the source - find someone who has chickens to sell you eggs.


#8

[quote="sanctareparata, post:1, topic:250346"]
This is probably going to sound like a snob thread, and I don't intend it to at all, but after reading the coupon thread I am sitting here wondering how to make healthier living more affordable....

[/quote]

Hi Sanctareapara,

I can't call myself a health food afficionado myself, but I do buy more whole ingredients than otherwise at least. From where I'm standing, many of the processed foods you described are more pricey than many very nutritious whole foods. Certainly hot dogs and processed meats are pretty expensive, unless you go with really cheap ones, which are not to be advised for reasons both nutritional and culinary! ;)

Maybe make your own granola? It can be done in a few minutes, not including bake time. Muffins are not too hard (I can prep them for the oven, including getting them to the tins, in 15 minutes). They are versatile; you should be able to find recipes with many types of flour and multigrains. That would be a savings. Cornbread and corn muffins are definitely easy to make in the home, and you could add some nutrious extras like flaxseeds.

Beans are definitely very inexpensive. Lentils are also very cheap. Can you cook chickpeas for yourself? Sunflower seeds and flax seeds are pretty affordable ways to add nutritious calories to a diet. Peanuts too if they are on the list for your family.

You can easily spend significantly less than average by avoiding the pricey conveniences that most "cheap food" Americans enjoy. Restaurants are way more expensive than most whole foods you can buy at least. Pre-made meals and canned soups are not any savings from where I'm standing. Nor is "hamburger helper" or similar branded boxed dinner items.

Consider a club card. I can save scores of dollars in a productive shopping trip, but I hardly use coupons. Most of what I save is in meat, generally not of the processed sort.

Granted, avoiding white flour and sugar does make big savings more difficult since these, along with vegetable oil, are probably the cheapest calories in the whole store (along with white rice). But most people don't buy much of these anyway since they are ingredients and not ready to eat.

It's frankly hard to get many calories from most vegetables; they are mostly fiber and water by weight. That makes them more expensive calorie-for-calorie, though of course very good for other reasons. Cabbage is great and very reasonable, as are carrots. Both are tops in terms of nutrient value.

You might also prioritize which changes you really think will have a major health benefit, and which could be simply trends. Skepticism is healthy too, and finances are important. Think very hard about anything out of a box; I notice that boxed, prepared organic or all-natural goods are real wallet-killers.

Hope you got a few good tips.

God Bless,
Joan


#9

There is a long, long list of things we don't buy, too. No candy, no chips, no sweets, no desserts (if we want it, we make it from scratch). This obviously isn't hard and fast, but for the most part, wwe don't stock stuff that isn't healthy, period.

Juice is for homemade frozen pops, not drinking. We drink water or sweet tea (except me - as pregnant as I am, only Coke will often settle my stomach :blush:).

We do a lot of eggs and yogurt for protein too.


#10

Hi Kristel,

I wouldn’t overemphasize the meaning of such statistics. Food has gotten cheaper for production reasons, and health care has gone up tremendously because the price of all services is so much higher, and also because so much more can be done for people who previously would have died. The life span has increased since the forties.

I do, however, agree (of course) that healthy eating, supplementation and keeping trim is a great investment in one’s medical future.

God Bless,
Joan


#11

I would like to recommend 3 books I have been reading over the past few months which have certainly caused me to look at all my former assumptions about what is or is not "healthy" or "planet friendly" food.

Good Fat Bad Fat by Gary Taubes (Also his "why we get fat and what to do about it")
Going Against the Grain (a must if you or a family member must go gluten free, best single resource I have seen) by Melissa Smith
The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Kieth, which I just downloaded and am reading now.

I am not seeing read and be converted but we owe it to ourselves to do the research and read anything that is published on food topics very critically.

the biggest change I have made, and happy to see DD's family is doing it too (oldest DGD says she is a vegetarian) is to learn to cook and eat more and different veggies, experiment with making them attractive to kids, and trying new things I never would have considered. I actually can eat Brussels Sprouts! Surprise, surprise, surprise. Still no lima beans, however, but I am breaking down my prejudices one by one. It brought tears to my eyes to see younger grandkids in front of TV with veggies and dip instead of chips. Now if she can just wean them from TV . . .


#12

I have been a vegetarian for 17 years and have found that I spend more money on groceries than my omnivore friends, but there are some ways to save money. First, only buy produce when it is in season since a large part of the expense is shipping from California or Latin America during the off season. I can also find good deals at the local farmer’s market, but that is only for a limited period during the year. Winter is tough, as most of the foods I love are way too expensive, but it has forced me to be more creative what I can find during those months. Another poster mentioned only buying organic for produce where you eat the skin, and I have heard the same thing.

If you buy canned fruits or vegetables, go ahead and buy the generic brands. Most of the generics have been canned in the same factories as the brand names (and use the same products). The difference in price is due to marketing.

I am not sure if you planning to go vegetarian/vegan, but if you do, the biggest expense will be for the “fake” meat products. While tasty and generally lower in fat/sodium than regular meat, they do have to add a lot of MSG and other chemicals to give them a decent taste. I would suggest substituting lentils into meals. They are relatively inexpensively, have lots of fiber, and don’t take as long to cook as regular beans (no soaking).

If you have a local co-op, you may want to ask about bulk ordering on staples such as rice, beans, flour, etc. One that I used to frequent gave a discount, especially if you could find other families to buy together with.

Not sure about your location, but do you have a Trader Joe’s nearby? They tend to be cheaper than other chain grocery stores, but they seem to be located only in major cities. A local co-op may be an option as well. Although the prices are higher, some will give you a discount if you volunteer to work in the store for a few hours a month.

It has been tough at times (especially when I was in school and broke), but I think it has been worth it in the long run. It was just a sacrifice I chose to make, but I will admit that it is easier for me because I don’t have children to worry about either.


#13

Thank you for posting this thread! I’ve been thinking of completely overhauling our diet to include more organic, all natural, and whole foods, and eliminating most of the processed, chemical-laden, hormone-filled foods that we often eat. But I’m not sure how we could afford it, and unfortunately we only have a freezer above our fridge, and we live in an apartment with no room for a deep freeze.

As for advice, I’ve heard that a CSA could be a good way to get lots of fresh, local produce at a good price. It sounds like CSAs vary in terms of how much bang you get for your buck, tho.


#14

My thought is to do what you can and leave the rest to God.

For example, someone in an apartment would be able to bake bread and make yogurt, but not buy a side of beef or bave a garden, but that’s still a step or two in the right direction, and making your own yogurt is cheaper than buying it, but around here, dried milk has gone up to same price or more than regular.

Baking bread is not hard once you get into the habit, and making up a gallon of yogurt (you can strain some and then it’s Greek yogurt or a substitute for sour cream) is not hard. Use Dannon as your starter; we could never get the other one to work.

Have eggs instead of cereal (they seem to be finding the eggs are not as bad for you as they used to think), eat a bean-based dinner a couple of time a week, and cook from scratch as much as you can. Check out little health food stores where they have things in bulk but the other stuff is usually quite expensive.

Just start with one thing and incorporate it, then move on to the next.

And a last note: gardening can be a lot trickier and quite expensive at the beginning. Try starting very small and working your way up: grow a little salad square and a couple of tomato plants in pots, and some herbs in pots. People who grew up with gardening seem to know how to do it better than people like me…

And good luck.

Oh, and there’s a good blog about switching over to more healthy life which if I recall correctly may be written by a Catholic lady… I rather stupidly thought I couldn’t possibly forget the name of it, but she will find something to try and then write about it, so look up something like making yogurt at home and you may run across it.


#15

For cleaning products, you may want to look on Amazon and see what deals you can get. I've tried numerous different brands over the years and, IMO, have found the following to be the best:

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Clorox Greenworks (not the most environmentally friendly, but most of the products in this category don't work very well, especially if you have hard water like I do)

Abrasive cleaner: method (available at Target and other big box retailers), Mrs. Meyers (I've seen this at TJ Maxx before)
Mrs. Meyers also has a good cleaning solution that comes in a concentrated form and lasts for months.

Laundry detergent: all of the following are about equal-Ecover, Method, Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation

Stain remover: Ecover

Fabric softener: Ecover; Dryer sheets: Method

Floor cleaner: I use a steam mop that does not use any chemicals. Expensive initial investment, but I love it!

Dishwasher detergent: unfortunately, most of them of pretty bad as they leave a lot of residue and you really have to scrub your dishes ahead of time to get the to come out clean. I am currently using Seventh Generation gel and it is okay. Regular dish detergents are pretty much equal-they all seem to get the job done.

The Ecover and Seventh Generation products are probably more expensive than the others. You may just have to use trial and error to see what works best for you.

You can also make your own that have vinegar and baking soda as bases. There are lots of recipes online.


#16

This is one area where I really save. We use vinegar, baking soda and tea tree oil for almost everything.

I don’t use dryer sheets because I don’t like my clothes having a film on them, though I find that using Soap Nuts makes the clothes naturally soft anyway because they don’t leave any residue.

I do use Seventh Generation for dish soap, though…but everything else gets the baking soda, vinegar and tea tree oil.

I do love the idea of a steam mop. Would it ruin a laminate floor?


#17

[quote="prosecutor, post:15, topic:250346"]
For cleaning products, you may want to look on Amazon and see what deals you can get. I've tried numerous different brands over the years and, IMO, have found the following to be the best:

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Clorox Greenworks (not the most environmentally friendly, but most of the products in this category don't work very well, especially if you have hard water like I do)

Abrasive cleaner: method (available at Target and other big box retailers), Mrs. Meyers (I've seen this at TJ Maxx before)
Mrs. Meyers also has a good cleaning solution that comes in a concentrated form and lasts for months.

Laundry detergent: all of the following are about equal-Ecover, Method, Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation

Stain remover: Ecover

Fabric softener: Ecover; Dryer sheets: Method

Floor cleaner: I use a steam mop that does not use any chemicals. Expensive initial investment, but I love it!

Dishwasher detergent: unfortunately, most of them of pretty bad as they leave a lot of residue and you really have to scrub your dishes ahead of time to get the to come out clean. I am currently using Seventh Generation gel and it is okay. Regular dish detergents are pretty much equal-they all seem to get the job done.

The Ecover and Seventh Generation products are probably more expensive than the others. You may just have to use trial and error to see what works best for you.

You can also make your own that have vinegar and baking soda as bases. There are lots of recipes online.

[/quote]

Oh yes! I forgot about the cleaning stuff. You can look up lots of laundry detergent recipes that will be much cheaper than commercial products. They typically include washing soda, borax, sometimes oxiclean or baking soda, and bar soap. For your diapers, though, I believe you want to avoid making a laundry soap with bar soap in it, because the glycerin can cause build up. Or you could try soap nuts, although I haven't had luck with using them alone. I always have to add washing soda or something to my load. You can use vinegar as a fabric softener if you want, I never have.

You can use the same ingredients for a dishwasher detergent, and use vinegar as a rinse. I've heard from at least one CDing mom who hated RNG on her dipes but loved it on her dishes. :shrug:

For a disinfecting spray, I just use hydrogen peroxide. I figure if it can clean out wounds, it should be able to handle a hard surface just fine. I've heard that spraying with straight vinegar, then peroxide (or vice versa, can't remember) will kill like 99% of germs. Personally, I like to keep some of the benign bacteria around to keep the harmful stuff at bay.

I use borax to scrub my toilet.

You can google tons of recipes for homemade, non-toxic personal care products, such as toothpaste, lip balm, deodorant, etc. This is a good blog to help you out with many of those.

You could also check out "no-pooing" which is basically using baking soda and vinegar instead of shampoo and conditioner.I'll be honest, though, I tried the no poo for about a month and went back to using regular suave. :o Lots of women end up loving it, though, after they get through their detox phase. Also, if you use the liquid Dr. Bronner's, it is very concentrated, so you can dilute it a lot before using. :thumbsup:


#18

I rarely use mine, :blush: but when I do I am careful not to leave it in one spot too long, and it hasn’t bothered my laminate floors at all. I haven’t used chemicals on my floor in over a year, and now that my son is crawling all over the place, I’m so glad I got it. :thumbsup:


#19

[quote="GracedUpon, post:17, topic:250346"]
You could also check out "no-pooing" which is basically using baking soda and vinegar instead of shampoo and conditioner.I'll be honest, though, I tried the no poo for about a month and went back to using regular suave. :o Lots of women end up loving it, though, after they get through their detox phase. Also, if you use the liquid Dr. Bronner's, it is very concentrated, so you can dilute it a lot before using. :thumbsup:

[/quote]

I tried the no-pooing and didn't like it, even after the adjustment time. I decided to use Dr Bronners on my hair, too, and that needed time to adjust as well, but I can't imagine using real shampoo again....Dr Bronners feels so....clean. :)


#20

Also worth researching in whatever area one lives in....

In my city there is a program they call Harvest Box. Like a CSA, but without the commitment. Basically, you sign up a week before delivery and it costs $8.00. There is a general pickup location (in my case, the local Rec Centre). The harvest box consists of locally grown in season fruits and vegetables and it is always worth way more than $8.00.

I would imagine many cities have similar programs. A good place to ask might be at your local library.


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