How to Live 'Wholeistically' on a Budget
Coconut oil, Matcha, Adaptogens, Chia Seeds, Protein Powder, Almond Butter, Maca, Collagen, MCT oil, Grass Fed Butter…
It seems that every week a brand-new product is launched that is meant to be the next big thing in health. And while it’s very easy to get caught up in it all, I find that not only is using this many products and supplements incredibly overwhelming, but it can also result in a much larger expense for you and your family.
Some of my favourite go-to meals, snacks and treats that I make on a regular basis tend to include very expensive ingredients. Nuts are incredibly pricey, as are nut butters of course, and everything from raw cacao powder, to chia seeds, to hemp hearts, to medjool dates, to maple syrup, can all set you back a lot of money.
If the high prices of ingredients and supplements makes you want to cry, then you are not alone. As much as it looks (and feels) much more glamorous to be making daily Bulletproof or Matcha Latte’s and eating your daily avocado toast for breakfast, trust me when I say, you can still absolutely live ‘wholeistically’ without all that extra ‘stuff’. Here are a few tricks that I live by that help me stay healthy, and on budget, when it comes to my nutrition:
1. First start with your food
As I already mentioned, you really don’t need all the extra (and very expensive) products if you are eating a balanced, fresh, whole-foods-focused diet. I have always tried to live my life with the notion that I will first attempt to get all my macro and micronutrients from my food, and then if I am lacking in any areas (like B12 for example, as I do not eat meat) then I will supplement. (I’m also terrible at taking pills of any kind, so for me, this was also out of necessity.)
Macro and Micro what?
Okay, quick science lesson for you. Macronutrients are referring to the fat, carbohydrates and protein required by the body. Each macronutrient is almost always found in every item of food, whether that’s a healthy snack bar or a raw vegetable; the only difference is how the macronutrients are balanced. As an example, the nutritional composition of an avocado is generally made up of 75% fats, 20% carbohydrates and 5% protein, therefore this is clearly a fat-based food. On the other hand, a banana consists of 95% carbohydrates, with only small amounts of protein and fats.
Fats help by improving brain development, overall cell function, protecting the body’s organs and even helping you absorb vitamins found in foods. Protein is essential for repairing and regenerating body tissues and cells, a healthy functioning immune system and manufacturing hormones. Finally, Carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source and therefore need to make up around 45-65% of a person’s diet. (Please don’t be afraid of carbs, they are so incredibly important to your body!)
Micronutrients are not needed in the same quantities as macronutrients, however, are still equally as important. Micronutrients work in tandem with macronutrients to keep the body functioning optimally and are crucial to maintain energy levels, metabolism, cellular function, and physical and mental well-being.
The recommended amount of macro and micronutrients all depends on a few different factors: age, height, body-type, activity level and more. If you are interested in learning more about what the perfect macronutrient breakdown is for your body, and your goals, then I would suggest visiting your naturopath.
If that is not something you are interested in, then do this: focus on eating whole, non-processed foods, a variety of colourful vegetables, quality meat and fish sources and organic where possible (a great tool to use when deciding what to buy organic is EWG’s guides: The Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen.)
2. Meal prep whenever you can
This is fairly straightforward, but one foolproof way to eat healthy on a budget is to limit the amount of eating out – of which eating out at healthy establishments is especially expensive – by preparing your meals as much as you can. This involves planning what meals to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week, compiling your grocery list, stocking up on only what you need, and spending anywhere from 1-3 hours preparing your meals for the week ahead. This may seem like a big investment, but I promise that it will save you both money and time.
3. Shop fresh, local and in bulk
Some of the best ways to save money while still eating whole, clean food is shopping fresh, local and in bulk.
Farmers Market’s are great ways of getting the freshest produce that is local to your area. Take cash with you, make your grocery list in advance (so you’re not tempted to go off course) and don’t forget your reusable bags and jars. Once you make your list, try to estimate how much the total cost will be (you may need to frequent your local farmers market a couple of times, so you get a feel for pricing) and once you’ve run out, your shopping is complete. This will help to keep you on budget.
Bulk Barn is a great option for stocking up on your cooking and baking needs. As you probably know, shopping in bulk is much more affordable than paying for convenience, so if you can, try to get as much of your pantry staples in bulk. I find storing all my pantry items in clear mason jars enable me to see how much I have left of each product, which stops me from overbuying product that I don’t need. In addition, Bulk Barn recently launched their reusable container program, which is another great reason to store your bulk items in jars or containers.
Also, Costco. Yes, it is always worth the craziness.
4. Shop Around
So, you’ve been eyeing up a few health products that you’ve wanted to try for a while. Well, before you dive right-in and pay full price at the source, make sure you spend some time shopping around on different sites to see who has the best deal. Sign yourself up to receive email alerts from your favourite companies so you know when certain items go on sale, and don’t be tempted to pull the trigger right-away before you take the time to shop around. In addition, waiting to buy a few items at once will usually mean free shipping, which will help save you a couple of extra bucks.
Some of my favourite sites to purchase my health products are:
Well.ca (baking supplies, snacks, food storage products)
Naturamarket (baking supplies, supplements)
Amazon (baking supplies)
Arbonne (supplements, clean skincare and makeup)
5. Stick to the basics
Going back to my initial thoughts on supplements, with all the products on the market these days, it can be incredibly easy to spend a small fortune making sure you have all the latest and greatest. Well, here’s a gentle reminder that you don’t need all that jazz to be the healthiest and happiest version of you! I’m guilty of always wanting the best and most popular products out there, but when I take the time to think about it, I realize that I really don’t need it. I like to stick to the basics that have worked for me in the past, and only when I’m ready to try something new, then I’ll see how I can incorporate it into my life.
Those are my top 5 tips on how to live your healthiest while sticking to a budget, but I thought who better to ask for input then the lovely ladies at Bettersorethansorryy. Raq & Zo are two university Kinesiology students who are dedicated to using the power of healthy eating and exercise to combat the stresses that come with being in university, and inspire other students to do the same. I sat down with Raq & Zo to pick their brains on how to best live a healthy lifestyle as a student:
A: As we all know, living healthy isn’t necessarily the most affordable option. As students, you must find this issue even more amplified. What are your favourite budget-friendly ways to live as healthy as possible while at school?
Write a list and DON’T OVER BUY
We find it super helpful to write our grocery lists before we get to the store so that we don’t run around the store buying everything in sight.
Stick to the list and that will ensure that you buy only what you need for the week, and no food will go to waste.
We like to buy large quantities of chicken breasts, minced chicken and fish. We cook it and freeze it in individual portions that we can easily take out to defrost the day before we want to eat it.
Meal prep is also great for using food scraps (ie. Instead of throwing out the ends of carrots and celery or chicken bones, try using them to make a soup.)
Buying frozen fruit/berries
We buy large bags of frozen fruit that we love to snack on or use in smoothies. Frozen fruit lasts longer and is much cheaper than fresh berries.
Cook at home
Grocery store shopping and cooking at home vs. eating out or ordering-in every meal can make or break the bank.
Cooking at home saves you tons of money especially as a student – even though it might take more time and effort, it’s worth it (and it’s much healthier!)
A: Do you have any tricks up your sleeve that you swear by that helps you keep on track towards reaching your health and fitness goals? (Can be either nutrition or exercise related)
We make a weekly schedule on Sunday of our workouts and meals to stay on track. This way we don’t have to spend time worrying about what to make for dinner or what workout to do.
We also go into the week with a positive mind set and know what we want to accomplish or how we want to feel.
We keep each other motivated (having a friend or partner to push and motivate you helps A LOT!)
We post on Bettersorethansorryy! [Their Instagram account.] This is the best way to stay motivated because we are forced to practice what we preach and lead by example for our followers.
A great tip for staying on track in terms of nutrition is to always be prepared. Whether you’re going to class, a friend’s house or a movie, bring healthy snacks that will keep you full and satisfied so you don’t reach for the crap and fall off track.
A: What is your favourite supplement that you can’t live without and where do you get it from? (Bonus points if it doesn’t break the bank!)
Zo: B12 for energy
Raq: Probiotics (HMF forte)
You can follow Raq & Zo’s healthy living journey on Instagram at @bettersorethansorry.