Food and Cuisine

Published on September 20th, 2021 | by Scott Cooney


Eating healthy and sustainably on a budget

Eating right doesn’t have to break the bank. Yes, cashew cheese and vegan butter are expensive on the shelf, but overall, you can actually save a ton of money by focusing on eating healthy and sustainable foods.

Here’s some strategies that will help you eat right for your body and for the planet, while spending less.

  1. buying in bulk:  an awesome way to not overspend. Especially when it comes to spices and other sometimes pricey ingredients, buying only what you need helps keep the cost down. Plus, you’re not paying for packaging, the cost of which is built into the price of packaged goods.
  2. cook in bulk: Make a large portion of whatever you’re going to make, and divvy it up into leftovers in a variety of containers, which you can eat over days, and freeze for the future. This is a great time saver too.
  3. beans and rice: staples like rice and beans have built entire cultures and empires. Whole grains are great for you and great for the planet, as they have a much lower carbon footprint, in general, than meat, eggs, and dairy products. A pound of organic brown rice (which, tapping into tip 1 here, you can find in the bulk aisle!) may cost $2. Once cooked, it produces 2-3 pounds of actual food, so you’re talking typically less than a buck for a pound of food. The average person eats a pound and change a day, so just try to beat this on an economic basis, I dare you.
  4. do a meal prep day: one friend puts meal prep on her calendar as a Sunday evening ritual. Rituals are healthy, and help for people who like structure, but also, this means she goes grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon, cooks Sunday eve, and then has leftovers and frozen goods for a week to come, saving her a ton of time and money.
  5. shop at farmers markets: the best priced local and organic produce you’ll find is typically at the local farmers market. Farmers will often have produce that’s not quite beautiful enough to go to grocery stores they will sell in discounts in person. Find your nearest farmers market here.
  6. reduce or eliminate the expensive stuff: reducing expensive things like meat in your diet has a ton of benefits. Good quality meat costs a lot and cheap, low quality meat is very bad for you and the planet. Thus, cutting meat out of your diet, or only eating it on special occasions, will certainly save you money. Even when you do go out to eat, you’ll often notice the meat dishes on the menu cost more than the plant-based ones. Removing meat from your diet also saves SO much carbon to reduce meat intake, so this is a good move for the climate crisis. Additionally, there are many, many scientific studies showing people who eat less meat reduce their risk of serious illnesses like heart disease. Eating less meat is healthier for you long term! Not to mention, eating more whole foods in a plant-based diet keeps you well in the short term, too, as a plant-based diet aids in keeping your weight and energy levels at their best. Health, planet, wallet: cutting meat is a win-win-win

Bon apetit!

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About the Author

Scott Cooney is a serial eco-entrepreneur including being the solo founder of Pono Home,, and CleanTechnica; author of two books; former sustainability consultant with clients including Johnson & Johnson, Eastman Chemical, Wal-Mart, and Duke Energy; former Adjunct teaching the first course in sustainable business in the MBA program at UH Manoa; lover of local, healthy food and especially vegan nachos. Find Scott on Twitter

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