In our travels, folks frequently ask us if its hard to eat healthy while on the road and still maintain our budget. We’ve found it’s actually much easier to eat healthy and we rely far less on convenience-foods.
We have developed a few tips and tricks along the way that are good for anyone who wants to save money without sacrificing a healthy diet.
Buy in Bulk
We like to find grocery stores that have a large bulk foods section, that way we can buy exactly the amount we need and it’s usually less expensive than buying individually packaged items. We recently fell in love with Winco, for their large selection of bulk goods; We had no idea what we were missing!
Even though we don’t have much space to store large quantities of food, we like to stock up on our staples like rice, beans and oats. They have a long shelf life and we use these items often, so its good to not worry about running out for a while. If you have an Instant Pot, dry beans can be cooked quickly; this cuts back on money and the waste of cans!
Discount Grocery Stores
Another way we save money is by visiting discount and bargain grocery stores like Bent-N-Dent and Bargain Market Grocery Outlet. These stores are kind of like treasure hunts. We never know what we will find because they don’t have consistently stocked items and inventory varies week to week. We don’t usually get everything on our list at these stores, but we can score some great deals on expensive organic items, that are discounted for minor package imperfections or are surplus items from a larger grocery store.
If we’re at larger chains, we make sure to check out clearance items and whatever sales are going on. At checkout, we like to ask the cashier for a store discount card if available and they’re usually free. You can usually use it right away and look forward to more savings in the future!
Buy Local Produce
One of our favorite things to do in a new town is to check out the local farmers market. It’s a great way to find quality organic produce for a reasonable price. We also love to stop by roadside fruit stands and orchards. There is nothing sweeter than seasonal, local grown fruit. It also gives us a great opportunity to connect with the community and support local farmers.
Cut Back on Eating Out
When we were getting ready to hit the road, we were trying to save every penny we could and the first thing we did to cut down, was to stop going out to eat. It’s probably the single most effective thing we did to save money in the year prior to going full-time. We were wasting insane amounts of money by eating out 1-2 times every day! Now we only eat out once or twice a month and prefer to make healthy meals at home instead. This way we save money and we know that our meals are made with fresh ingredients and lots of love.
Creating Healthy Habits
We strive to lead healthy and compassionate lives, but sometimes we succumb to bad habits. We’ve developed a few tips and tricks to keep us on track.
It’s okay to indulge every now and then, but we try to keep processed and sugary foods to a minimum. For this reason, we don’t buy it and we don’t keep it in the camper. Instead, we keep nuts and fruits available for snacking and if we want something sweet we will have a few dates to satisfy our craving.
Our time in the desert has taught us how important it is to stay hydrated and just how crummy it feels to be dehydrated. Sometimes its easy to forget to drink enough water, so adding some lemon, fruit, cucumber or mint will encourage us to drink more throughout the day. Sometimes we will add a splash of apple cider vinegar to help with digestion. We keep our water in a reusable bottle to make it easy to bring along and refill no matter where we are, and the environment is happy too!
We eat lots of whole grains and they are a healthy part of our diet, but sometimes they can leave us feeling heavy. To help with that, we like to soak our grains (rice, buckwheat, millet..etc) ahead of time, this helps break down the phytic acid and makes the nutrients more easily absorbed and digested. You can do this by covering the grains with water and adding about a tbsp of apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) per 1 cup of water, cover and sit in a warm place for about 7 hrs (for the grains listed above, 12-24hrs for other whole grains). Afterwards, just drain, rinse and cook as usual. It will cook more quickly though, so check it at about half the usual cooking time. Roasting nuts and soaking beans also help to make the nutrients of the foods more bioavailable.
This last tip is something that I finally learned, after years of over-eating and feeling bloated after every meal. That lesson was too slow down and actually chew my food. This has helped my digestion so much and now I feel full faster and for longer. I think over time, our fast paced lives and schedules have conditioned us to rush through meals and we forget how important it is to taste and enjoy our food. Not anymore, I’m savoring every bite!
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