You don’t have to be a money-saving expert to live a healthy life, even in this economy. When finances are tight, we often scrimp on health-related expenses. After all, who has the extra dough to spring for a bag of organic apples or a healing massage?
I’m in this boat right along with you. However, since I suffer from autoimmune problems (celiac disease and ITP), I can’t afford not to eat healthy, natural food and use natural remedies. Fortunately, there are ways to make the most of your hard-earned dollars, even when times are tough.
Saving Money on Natural Food
Good health begins with the food you put into your body. If you’re trying to save money by going to the drive-thru most nights, you’re actually doing your health – and your pocketbook – a huge disservice. You’re busy, you’re on a limited budget, and the dollar menu is tempting. But believe it or not, you can save money and still serve nutritious food every day of the week.
1. Buy Local
If you’re like most people, you shop for produce at a grocery store. It’s convenient, well-stocked, and looks good. But there’s a catch: It usually is marked up very high in price.
Instead of hitting up the grocery store, shop locally. Most farmers’ markets sell fresh produce they grow themselves, so there’s very little mark-up. Furthermore, food is picked when it’s ripe, so it’s healthier than store-bought.
When shopping at a farm stand or farmers’ market, remember a few tips that could save you even more:
- Try Something New. Expand your culinary repertoire by adding items you may never have tried before, such as star fruit, papaya, or white asparagus. Some exotic fruits and vegetables can be intimidating, but when they’re in season, they’ll save you a lot of money. If you don’t know how to prepare them, ask the farmer. They’ll usually be more than happy to help you out, and you may even get a discount in the process.
- Spread Some Compliments. When you shop at a farmers’ market, you’re dealing with real people who grew the products you’re buying. Talk to them: Tell them how much you enjoyed the tomatoes you bought last week, or how well their apples worked for your pie. When they know how much you love their products, they may cut you a deal.
- Buy in Bulk. When fruits and vegetables are in season, the farmer will have a surplus. The more you’re willing to take off his or her hands, the better the deal.
- Don’t Shop Alone. Shopping with friends and family is another great way to buy in bulk. If you’re willing to take away crates of merchandise at one time, you’ll get a rock-bottom price.
2. Freeze It
Another way to enjoy good health without spending a fortune is to freeze the produce you buy, especially if you buy it in bulk. Wash it, cut it up, and store it in freezer bags to prevent freezer burn. Many fruits and vegetables stay fresh for up to 12 months.
You can save additional money by preparing food in bulk and then freezing them for a series of meals during the week. For busy parents, this technique can be a lifesaver.
3. Grow Your Own
You can save money by starting your own vegetable and herb garden, even if you’ve never done it before. All you need is potting soil, large pots for patio gardening, and a little bit of patience. The easiest vegetables and herbs to grow in a container garden are lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, summer squash, basil, and oregano.
4. Contact Your Favorite Companies
When I really enjoy a gluten-free or organic product, I send the company a quick email to let them know. Furthermore, whenever I request coupons, I almost always receive them. Compliment your favorite companies, and you may be rewarded.
Saving on Natural Remedies
1. Buy Supplements Online
Grocery stores and pharmacies often sell low-quality supplements at high prices. If you regularly take multivitamins, krill oil, vitamin D, or any other natural supplement, you can save a lot of money and get better quality by purchasing online. Shop around – you’ll be amazed at how much you can save, even with shipping costs factored in.
2. Look in Your Cabinet
Believe it or not, you may already have a host of natural remedies on hand. For example, a spoonful of chopped organic garlic and honey is one of the cheapest natural remedies for a cold. Cayenne pepper can be mixed into food or water for lasting natural arthritis relief. Ground ginger relieves nausea, morning sickness, and motion sickness without side effects. And baking soda makes a great facial scrub, antacid, and tooth whitener.
Saving on Alternative Medical Care
1. Get an Affordable Massage
A massage isn’t only relaxing, it helps boost your immune system and eases chronic pain. Save some money and stay in good health by getting a free or cheap massage from a massage therapy student. Look for massage therapy schools in your area and save over half the cost of a professional massage.
2. Visit a Sliding-Scale Chiropractor
If you’re dealing with chronic back or neck pain and don’t want to take narcotics, a chiropractor can give you the adjustment you need. Search online for “sliding scale chiropractor.” You’ll be surprised how many doctors are willing to work within your budget.
3. Get a Free Reiki Healing
Reiki is a form of energy healing. Most trained Reiki healers charge anywhere from $50 to $100 per session, but you may be able to request a free Reiki distance healing. A trained Reiki master needs only your name, the ailment you’re suffering with, and perhaps a photo of you for energy direction. If you’re uncertain about this type of practice, you can also visit a local community college that trains Reiki healers and negotiate a discounted healing with a student.
Whether you’re suffering with a chronic health problem or simply want to raise a more health-conscious family, you can live a holistic life without breaking the bank. And remember, the more you invest in your health now, the less money you’ll have to spend curing illnesses down the line.
What other tips can you suggest to save money on holistic healing and natural health foods?
(photo credit: Shutterstock)