How to be Healthy on a Budget

by Dr. Justin Gallant ND | Follow on Twitter

Affordable and effective nutrition is a medicine that all people have access to.

I KNOW I’M NOT THE ONLY PERSON trying to be healthy on a budget.

In order to choose affordable and effective nutrition, let’s get back to basic grade-school nutrition, forget about all of these super foods and miracle supplements, the 4 basic things we need from our food are:

  1. Protein (PRO)
  2. Carbohydrate (CHO)
  3. Fat
  4. Fiber

Affordable foods that will fulfill basic requirements:

Affordable foods that fill basic requirements.

Affordable foods that fill basic requirements.

*Rinse canned foods thoroughly to remove the majority of the sodium and ascorbic acid they are preserved with or better yet buy them dry and boil them.
**Pasta can be a nice cheap ingredient if you are not sensitive to gluten.

These suggestions are just to fulfill our most basic needs. Fortunately, most nutrients (ie. vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc) that we also need are packed in fruits and vegetables.

Try to buy a different fruit or vegetable each time you go to the market, you’ll be surprised at which ones you like that you’ve never tried before. Use the chart above as your basic grocery checklist and then try to buy as many fruits and vegetables as you can in order to fulfill other nutrient needs. Favour vegetables over fruits though, sugar is sugar after all, so you don’t want to consume too much fruit.

There are plenty of other cheap great foods out there but I believe these will give you the best bang-for-your-buck nutritionally speaking.

Affordable Foods that aren’t as Healthy as you Think

  • Pasta: Good if you can handle gluten but otherwise may be reducing your absorption of nutrients from other foods via intestinal inflammation
  • Rice: Lacks nutrients
  • Potato: Lacks nutrients
  • Tuna: Too much mercury (bigger the fish the more mercury)
  • Deli meats: Full of sodium and nitrates (carcinogens)
  • Juice: Too much sugar
  • Frozen dinners: Come on! Life’s not that easy
  • Breakfast fiber bars: Usually packed with sugar and hardly any fiber
Some affordable foods that are not as healthy as you think.

Some affordable foods that are not as healthy as you think.

More Ways to Stay Healthy on a Budget

  1. Your diet doesn’t have to be bland – Enter your main ingredients into Spark Recipes for a plethora of great ideas to spice things up.
  2. Track your diet – Use the My Fitness Pal app or website to tell you how many calories and all the macronutrient you still have left to eat each day. Dietary inefficiency can hurt your wallet.
  3. Just use juice to flavor water – You can dilute juice up to 90% and some will still taste the same. Another option is putting a lemon or experiment with other fruits in a pitcher of water for flavour (make sure you clean them thoroughly or use organic fruits).
  4. Invest in a slow cooker – At the end of the day most people don’t feel like putting a meal together so we grab something quick like fast-food. If you have a delicious meal slow-cooking all day it will be ready by the time you get home and be a lot better for you than fast-food.
  5. Buy Greens powder if you can’t get enough nutrition via diet. They may seem expensive but they’re packed full of healthy stuff and last a while. Most of them don’t taste as bad as they look.
  6. Grow your own food.
  7. Go to local markets or farms – You may be able to barter if you buy  in bulk and they actually care about what they sell.
  8. Shop at bulk stores for things like dry legumes, nuts, seeds, protein powder and trail mix.
  9. Invest in a travel mug and make your own tea or coffee at home. If you drink 3 hot drinks per day you would save at least $3 per day, that’s more than $90 a month! More than enough for all of the groceries that you need. Just make sure it’s not plastic.
  10. Don’t eat out! In general, one restaurant meal costs about the same as it would to feed your whole family at home.
To make a long story short: If you grew your own fruits and vegetables, shopped at your local markets and bulk stores you could be eating for less than $5/day.

Affordable Lifestyle Advice

  1. Go for a walk, jog, run or hike outside
  2. Play sports with your friends
  3. Make sure to get at least 30 minutes of sun each day
  4. Do yoga
  5. Take up gardening
  6. Bike or roller-blade instead of driving or taking public transit
  7. Go fishing! You might land yourself a free meal
  8. Take up a hobby so you’re not sitting at home eating out of boredom
  9. Try to hang around healthy people
  10. Don’t order cable!
About the Author
Dr. Justin Gallant ND

Dr. Justin Gallant believes the ideal healthcare setting is when a patient has a multidisciplinary group of healthcare providers looking after them and each member of the group can communicate openly with each other. Each healthcare provider has their own limitations so it is important to work together in order to fill these gaps. Dr. Gallant is currently working at Advantage Chiropractic as well as Mountain Wellness Centre in Hamilton, Ontario.