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Eating Green on a Budget

winter stew

Want to eat well but while keeping an eye on your budget? Not to worry—you don’t have to empty your wallet at Whole Paycheck Whole Foods in order to do so. Here are some tips on how to parlay your greenbacks into more affordable green eating.

Prioritize your purchases. Buying organic makes for healthier, tastier food, but it can come at a steep price. However, The Daily Green has published two helpful guides to navigating this dilemma: a list of 12 key foods to buy organic, as well as of the 10 safest non-organic grocery purchases.

Know which aisles to shop. The bulk section of health-food stores is a goldmine of good buys: grains, cereals, dried beans, nuts, flour, sugar, and herbs and spices. Buying in bulk is less expensive than buying packaged goods and allows you to get just the right amount.

Eat seasonally. This winter, ditch the tomatoes from Mexico and the hothouse strawberries in favor of fresh kale or root veggies. Seasonal produce is generally more affordable than imported, off-season varieties.

Eat more vegetables. They’re cheaper than meat and loaded with essential vitamins and nutrients. Moreover, legumes are a wonderfully cheap source of protein and also count as a serving of veggies. In his books, Michael Pollan advises turning the hierarchy of the American plate on its head: instead of the traditional protein centerpiece and veggie side, make protein the side and vegetables the main part of the dish. Your body—and your wallet—will thank you.

Protein in bulk. If you must eat meat, go straight to the source: the farm. Several farms sell meat in very large quantities, ensuring an overall discount. When you take the meat home, cut it into meal-sized portions and freeze them, defrosting what you need throughout the week or month. Eat Wild is an online resource on where to find local, grass-fed meat direct from a farm or CSA service.

Change your cooking strategy. Stews and soups are great ways to turn a little into a lot of filling, nutritious food that lasts for days. Leftovers can also be frozen to avoid waste.

Use leftovers in new ways. Day-after roasted meat makes for a delicious sandwich ingredient. Leftover grains and pastas, as well as veggies that may be close to expiring, can be cooked into soups and stews. Leftover veggies can be tossed into a hearty salad. Be creative!

Eat less. In yet another health- and wallet-friendly move, train yourself to eat smaller portions. (55 million French people can’t be wrong!) Putting smaller servings on smaller plates and leaving the serving pots and pans in the kitchen (not on the dining table), and drinking lots of water during your meal are but a few tricks to help with portion control. If you’re still hungry after your first serving, take a small break to digest and reassess your hunger; oftentimes you’ll wind up feeling full enough and won’t need to keep eating.

Image credit: La Tartine Gourmande at Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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