We’ve covered different angles in my series, 52 ways to save money on a healthy diet. Like what you can buy at Costco, using a cash system, or how to make continunious kombucha, how to save money by reducing kitchen waste, and how to afford quality seafood on a budget.
Today I thought it could be just as helpful to share what NOT to do.
Concentrating on purity rather than nutrition
Whenever you research the dangers of our food system, there is a lot you learn about avoiding. I totally get that concern and share it. But we also need to make sure that we don’t focus so much on the purity of our diet that we forget about nutrition. For example, one thing that has been a tendency for myself is to overly fixate on only buying high-quality, organic or better-than-organic products.
While this is a good goal, sometimes I have lost sight of the big picture of nutrition. I believe pretty strongly in avoiding GM foods, especially on an every day basis, and I also have been convinced that there is enough research to warrant the goal of a 100% organic diet. But I also need to make sure that we are getting the protein and the produce (both which can be expensive and hard to buy in quantity when on a budget) we need to have good health. Julia Ross recommends that adults eat a decent serving of protein and 10-12 cups of produce every single day.
While that may not be the right goal for everyone, the point is this. In our imperfect world, with limited resources, there are times when we have to choose between two imperfect options. For me, that can look like choosing between 1) A completely pure, all-organic diet, that is lower in protein and produce than is optimal for me and/or my family and 2) Making some compromises so that I can afford the proper amount of produce and protein for my family, despite them not always being my first choice products. I can buy off of the Clean 15 list of produce, non-organically, if there is a sufficient savings to warrant it, for example. I have a hard time making compromises still, but I am trying.
Making a low food budget your ultimate goal
Perhaps this is simply from my background of growing up around mostly stay-at-home wives and mothers who simply had to fit within the confines of their food budget, but I went into marriage feeling that part of my worth as a spouse was keeping a really frugal food budget.
I think because it was a real necessity for many of the wives in my community, a low food budget was often praised and exalted. Some of the blogs I like and follow get a lot of praise for the lowest possible food budget they can squeak by on. It has been a process for me to get out of that mindset. Instead, my new goal is “Making the best use of my resources for the health and happiness of my family and friends”.
When my food budget is my ultimate goal, I can stress over any hospitality/sharing of food that increased it. When keeping my food budget low is the ultimate goal, I can sacrifice a diet that would better serve my family’s health. When keeping my food budget as low as possible is my ultimate goal, I can cut out the “joy” foods, like desserts, fruits, and other natural treats (because they aren’t absolutely necessary).
While it is part of the goal and passion of my website to help normal people on normal budgets eat nourishing foods, my heart is not to help you cut your budget as low as possible, but rather, I hope to help you thrive with the resources you have.
I have two more things to say about this point. First, if you are on a low food budget out of necessity, there is no shame to that. You can create beautiful foods for surprisingly little. And two, if you came from a similar background and feel that your wifehood worth is equal to your low food budget, know there is no shame in investing money by buying good food for your family.
Letting worry and fear cloud your perspective
If you are trying to save money on a budget, and puzzling through which are the best compromises to make, and frustrated about the confines of your resources, fear and worry can become part of your routine.
This is how not to save money on a healthy diet. Worry is a stress on your body. While being concerned about something can be a good thing, as there could be real concerns and only “worry” will propel you to find a solution, worry is also a stress on your body. If you know that you are doing the best that you can with the resources you have, worrying about what you can’t change will just add an unnecessary stress to your body.
I can definitely be a worrywart myself, so I am really working on keeping a proper balance of caring about being a good steward of what I have, without unduly stressing about it. Stressing is not being a good steward of my mind and my body. As a Christian, I remember how Jesus told us not to worry about what we will eat or what we shall wear, but rather that we should seek first his Kingdom and His righteousness, and how God will give us what we need. My husband will sometimes quote from this passage to me, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
But the point is this, worry will not change anything, but actually make you less healthy, both in mind and body. So don’t let keeping a budget and trying to eat healthy become a huge stress in your life.
What other mistakes do you think we make when on a budget?