Eating Healthy When Times are Tough

Organic, free-range, grass-fed, non-GMO, dye-free, and gluten-free are some of the popular labels that accompany certain healthy food choices these days. Sadly, along with these labels come high prices.

Eat Healthy Foods during Tough Times
Eat Healthy Foods during Tough Times

According to global organic farming statistics, in 2009 the United States was the number one country (followed far behind by Germany and France) with the largest domestic markets for organic food.

During economic downturns, many people need to tighten their belts and re-assess their purchasing habits. Eating healthy when times are tough can be a real challenge. It takes a little ingenuity, patience, and research to find where and how you can obtain many of the healthy foods you’ve come to love and appreciate.

Organic vs. Non-Organic

Advertising campaigns can really sway consumers into thinking that what they are purchasing and what they need to purchase are two completely different things. Do not get sucked into the hype. Although organic farming has created a gold rush of business for many corporations much of it is overtly sensationalized, so much so that even the word “organic” has been considerably stretched thin.

To compare what may be best to purchase and avoid when considering healthy food choices, it is best to consult the “clean 15” and the “dirty dozen” lists of foods that are susceptible to pesticides and which should be bought organic.

The Dirty Dozen

During tough times you may want to avoid these fruits and vegetables unless you want to buy them organic. The following non-organic foods have been cited as testing positive for between forty-seven and sixty-seven pesticides:

  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Domestic blueberries
  • Lettuce
  • Imported grapes
  • Cherries
  • Apples
  • Nectarines
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Kale, collard greens, and spinach
  • Celery

The Clean Fifteen

These fifteen foods present very small amounts to zero traces of pesticides and can be purchased as inexpensive as possible without compromising your health:

  • Cabbage
  • Kiwi
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet onions
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet peas
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet corn
  • Mango
  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Grapefruit
  • Sweet potatoes

Buy in Bulk but Buy Smart

With so many warehouse shopping opportunities these days it is worth the initial yearly membership fee to get in on some of the ground floor bargains. By purchasing food in bulk you can still make healthy choices without paying exorbitant individual prices. Assess what you or your household consumes on a regular basis and purchase those items in bulk accordingly.

It is important to not let your wide eyes do your shopping when you enter these havens of everything or before you know it you will be leaving with four hundred dollars worth of cases of pickles, candy, and mayonnaise.  Stick to what will be used quickly so it does not sit in your refrigerator and spoil or take up necessary shelf space.

Go Easy on the Flesh

Meat, poultry, and fish prices are on the rise almost daily. In addition, many of these animal products are tainted with antibiotics and irradiation. Cutting back on your meat consumption and replacing your meals with pasta, rice, and beans or salads will not only go easier on your pocketbook but will definitely add to more quality health. Legumes alone are high in protein, fiber, and minerals that the body has an easier time digesting and assimilating.

Store Brands

Store brands have become savvier in competing with name brands by improving their ingredients, packaging, and especially, price. Do not be afraid to try store-brand pasta, salsas, snacks, frozen foods, and more. You may be surprised at the comparable quality as well as savings.


Do not get caught up in the coupon traps so many stores are apt to set up. It may seem like a good deal at first to purchase three of the expensive name brand items at what seems to be a lower price but after checking the weight or amount it may not hold up.

Slow down when you shop and if possible shop alone with your own music in your headphones. This will enable you to concentrate better and not be confused by outside disturbances.

Junk Foods are Less Expensive but Can They Be Healthy?

This is a fine line because junk foods have become more inconspicuous with their packaging and ingredients. Stay away from sugar, high fructose, and corn syrup and instead look for things such as pretzels, crackers, rice or soy ice cream, and the like. These items can be less expensive while at the same time healthful.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you eat healthily when times are tough. Preparing food at home and keeping vigilant will go a long way and just may stick, even when tough times subside.

Scroll to Top