9 budget-friendly ways to eat more sustainably

Living off the grid is not necessary to protect the environment. After all, sustainable initiatives can start on your plate.

Consuming sustainably can reduce your carbon impact, conserve valuable resources and promote more ethical food systems. It can also help you save money. Contrary to popular belief, eco-friendly food doesn’t have to break the wallet. You don’t have to buy all organic foods, expensive vegan products, or only grass-fed meats.

Here are nine strategies for eating sustainably and healthily while saving money.

1. Eat regional food

The local food movement is booming in the United States as more and more people are interested in interacting with farmers, promoting local businesses, and trying out regional cuisine.

Locally grown food takes less transportation to get to you, reducing emissions and using fossil fuels. Costs are thus reduced. Plus, the more you commit to eating local, the more delicious new foods you’ll discover. For example, if you are in the Northwest, you can eat puppets and cook with mesquite flour or cook with nopales if you are in the Southwest.

(Credit: Pixabay)

2. Eat seasonally

If you’ve ever tasted a crisp stalk of asparagus in April, a perfectly ripe strawberry in June, or a sweet, juicy Florida orange from October to June, you’ve tasted the delicious rewards of seasonal food.

In addition to being the ripest and tastiest, foods picked in season are often richer in nutrients. For example, according to one study, broccoli grown throughout the season had higher vitamin C content than broccoli grown out of season.

Foods that are in season are generally less expensive than those that are not. (When a farm or food store has a crop surplus, they usually price it down to get it into the hands of customers before it spoils.) So grab a crate of oranges in the winter or a cartload of fresh corn in the summer, and you’ll probably pay a lot less than the premium price you would pay out of season.

Eating in season helps maintain natural food growth cycles from an environmental perspective. However, food producers sometimes need to use more inputs, such as pesticides, fertilizers or water, which depletes resources to grow crops year-round as required by the system. industrial food. (An example is using electricity or gas to create heat to grow fresh herbs.)

Eating seasonal and local are complementary practices. When harvested through natural cycles, nearby crops consume fewer resources and less time to reach your plate.

3. Plan your meals

Meal planning is a great way to maintain a healthier diet. it gives you complete control over your diet and allows you to make intentional, healthy food choices that support your health goals.

Making a complete list of all the foods you’ll need before you hit the store will help you stick to your budget and avoid impulse purchases. Plus, when you organize your shopping, you waste less food.

Significant environmental damage results from food waste. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that a third of the food produced in the United States is never consumed. Moreover, this food waste ranks first among all other items dumped in landfills.

4. Eat leftovers

Saving and consuming your leftovers rather than throwing them away is essential, as reducing food waste is a fantastic way to help the environment. Plus, eating leftovers reduces food waste and saves money by saving you from buying unnecessary new products.

If you hate leftovers, try inventive solutions like using leftover meat as a pizza topping, adding extra vegetables and fruit to a salad, or adding extra rice or pasta to a soup.

5. Consider Canning, Freezing, or Drying

After deciding to stock up on foods that are in season, your next step will be to figure out how to keep your produce from spoiling. After all, most of us can’t consume a pallet of squash or a bunch of grapes in a short time. Fortunately, anyone can experiment with food preservation; you don’t even have to be a homesteader. Foods can be preserved at home easily and practically through freezing, canning and drying.

The simplest approach is freezing, and many items freeze well. However, it’s best to do some research before freezing an old thing. Remember that you should also store food in airtight containers. Although they require a little more work, canning and drying can help you have food on hand for several weeks or even months.

9 budget-friendly ways to eat more sustainably
(Credit: Pixabay)

6. Buy in bulk

The bulk section of your local grocery store is a gold mine of financial savings and environmental benefits. Buying dry goods in bulk often results in significant savings, especially when it comes to more expensive items like nuts, dried fruits, or specialty flours. Plus, you’re less likely to throw food away when you buy the exact amount you need rather than the amount in a package.

Additionally, buying in bulk can reduce plastic usage. You can avoid regular use of plastic bags by bringing your own hygienic, reusable food-grade bags.

7. Eat more plants and less meat

Choosing more plant-based foods over animal-based foods could lead to financial savings, environmental benefits, and better health. Indeed, animal products increase water demand, land degradation and greenhouse gas emissions.

Compared ounce for ounce, plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu often cost less than half the price of meat. For example, ground beef costs an average of $4.63 per pound, while dried beans cost $1.55 per pound on average in February 2022.

Of course, this is not always the case; for example, nut milk is usually much more expensive than cow’s milk. However, when done correctly, substituting plant-based foods for animal products can help reduce costs.

9 budget-friendly ways to eat more sustainably
(Credit: Pixabay)

8. Plant a diverse garden

The Victory Garden program encouraged people to grow their own food during World Wars I and II to reduce costs and relieve pressure on the industrial food system. These benefits still apply today, so consider planting a garden.

Depending on how many crops you can grow, the results of your labor might be able to supplement your meals for minimal cost. Nothing is more locally grown (or seasonal) than food grown in your garden. Also, keep in mind that a vegetable garden benefits greatly from diversity.

Plus, you can reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by composting food scraps for your garden. Not surprisingly, one study found that home gardening can significantly reduce a household’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Although it can be time consuming, you should consider using gardening to relieve stress. According to one study, spending just two hours a week in the garden increased people’s sense of health and well-being while reducing stress levels.

(Credit: Pixabay)

9. Stay away from ultra-processed foods

Ultra-processed foods have gone through many industrial processes and often have added flavors, fats, sugars and chemical preservatives. Some examples are snack bars, crackers, deli meats, cheese flavored corn chips and artificially flavored cereals.

Many health problems, including obesity, diabetes and certain cancers, are linked to a diet high in these foods. Additionally, due to their multiple ingredients and high carbon footprint, ultra-processed meals are bad for the environment.

So, whenever possible, it’s a good idea to replace them with healthy, nutritious foods. Plus, it could save money because some snacks, like cheese or apples, are often cheaper than a bag of chips or candy.

Comments are closed.