The first post for our Myth Busting series! Just to review, Nancy Drew solves mysteries but myths are kind of like mysteries. They have the same prefix. Also, we will be busting common myths in regards to diet and wellness. In tackling common “myths” and answering FAQ-U (frequently asked questions of the Umbles), I want to begin with one of the most common . . . “healthy eating is too expensive” and/or “how much do you actually spend?” I believe this question stems from a couple of different issues and/or misconceptions. I will do my best to cover our practical choices but even more so the theory behind our practical choices.
If you were to come up to me (which many people have done) and ask, “isn’t eating paleo (or whatever you want to call eating whole foods) expensive?” I would answer both with both a “yes” AND a “no”.
YES, it is. Quality raised animal meat is more expensive than Oscar Meyer. A cart or basket full of produce costs more than a cart full of graham crackers and Kraft cheese. Stocking up on coconut oil and almond meal isn’t as convenient as grabbing generic olive oil and boxed cake mix. A freezer full of beef patties and chicken thighs is worth more than a freezer full of frozen meals. That’s just fact. BUT!!! Here’s the kicker. . .
Out of all of our expenses, shouldn’t that which we put into our homes and physical, living, breathing bodies be near the top of our list? Shouldn’t what we put into our bodies matter more than what we put on our bodies? The building blocks that make up our muscles . . . the fat that nourishes and strengthens our skin, clothing our beautiful bones, shouldn’t that matter? The body that gives birth. The body that welcomes guests into their home with a hug. The body that runs and sweats. The body that laughs ,cries and sings. Your body matters.
I think the “isn’t that expensive?” question stems from a wonky paradigm and it needs a shift. For us personally, quality food is a priority because our bodies and health are a priority. We see our bodies and livelihood as a gift from a very kind Giver. We wouldn’t put crap gasoline into a Ferrari. We wouldn’t carry our iphones without a protective case. Our thought process is, “how could we not take care of the very bodies we run, play, hug and simply do life with?”
Yes. Eating whole foods isn’t always cheap . . . but neither is disease. I don’t think we can guarantee ourselves from all sickness, at all. I don’t think we can keep ourselves from dying or suffering. But I do think we can keep ourselves from a lot of common sickness and ailments. We believe nourishing our bodies with real food is preventative care. It’s the tire rotation, oil change and break tune up . . . but for your living, breathing self.
So, yes. With all that said, our grocery bill is one of our bigger monthly bills.
But remember, I also said I would answer this question with “AND no.” Here are my “and no’s.” Eating healthy DOES NOT have to break the bank.
1. Elimination. We aren’t spending $5 on caramel frappucinos (we never were, let’s be honest). We aren’t eating out, grabbing drinks or driving through anywhere and “sadly” we don’t go out for frozen yogurt or slurpees (as much as I love Menchies). You might not think random monthly expenditures and outings cost much but when eliminated, you’re saving quite a bit of dough that can now be put towards weekly groceries. Think about it, if you spend $3.00 (average) on coffee or a treat twice a week, that’s $3.00 x 2 times a week = $6.00 x 4 weeks in a month = $24.00 a month! That’s at least 4 pounds of grass fed beef or 50 ounces of quality cooking fats.
2. Reasearch. Research! Find local co-ops in your area such as my current favorite, Bountiful Baskets (http://www.bountifulbaskets.org/). Ask a friend or family to split a hog or cow. Find a local farmer to support near you. Look for sales, sign up for newsletters, cut coupons, put reminders in your phone to remind you of upcoming markets or promotions. Take the time to research, plan and make it happen.
3. Cut Corners. I shared about this a little bit earlier (https://weirdamphibians.wordpress.com/category/diy/) . Look for ways to cut corners that don’t affect your food quality. Maybe buy a cheaper brand of toilet paper. Learn to coupon for toothpaste and shaving cream orrrr get really crazy and learn to make your own. Recyle zip lock baggies (crazy, I know. But hey, you do what you gotta do.) Get better at turning off bedroom lights. We don’t use the “drying” cycle on our dish washer and let them air dry overnight. We keep our change in a jar (it’s a pig acutally) and visit Coinstar often. We use the Groupon app frequently. Sometimes I have to choose between buying almond butter and amino acids. Big deal.
5. Peruse your local Dollar Tree. Rubber gloves. Trash bags. Floss. Masking tape. Batteries. Shower curtain liners. I even have bought coffee mugs. Yikes.
6. Meal plan. Seriously. Take 10 minutes out of your week to plan out what you are going to eat the upcoming week. Make a list of what you will need and stick to it. Set a maximum limit and stay beaneath. Try to buy things you can use more than once (for instance, if you’re going to buy BBQ sauce for dinner on Tuesday, try to use it again a few days later for lunch and get more bang for your buck). Also, learn to shop the sales. Peruse the adds . . . if pork chops are on sale, make pork chops. If tomatoes are on sale but you really wanted eggplant, suck it up and go with tomatoes.
7. Do the best you can. Oh my . . . please, please, if anything, do not “leave here” thinking that you have to spend tons of money. Do not let this be a burden. That isn’t healthy! Feeling weighed down by some pressure to eat organic and organic only is exactly not the point. That is not my goal in this post or this entire blogging thing. Whatever financial situation you are in, you simply do the best you can. Some months, that meant we ate ground beef and sweet potatoes all day, every day. You simply do the best you can with what you have and be thankful, be so thankful for what you have. “Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.”
CONCLUSION: Maybe your priorities regarding health and food need to shift, maybe they don’t. Maybe you need to start making a weekly/monthly food budget to see where your money is acutally going. Maybe you need to cut down to one Starbucks a week. I don’t know! This isn’t about rules or regulations or what I think! This is an underlying principle regarding priorities and the value of the human body . . . it’s going to look different for each and every person.
Also, don’t be a freak. Don’t hate on others for splurging on a fancy meal. Don’t feel less cool for buying Charmin Ultra. One of the best (best!) things I have learned (Thank you Lizz Wolfe) is “eyes on your own plate” and at my yoga studio “eyes on your own mat.” What does that mean? It means stop being a freak . . . at both ends of the spectrum. Stop criticizing others (whether that is verbally or internally) for what they eat or don’t eat. It also means, don’t feel as though you need to justify your Ben and Jerry’s or new outfit. Both criticizing others and over-criticizing yourself is simply fear of man. This is caring more what people think rather than what God thinks. You have an audience of One, my friend.