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A tale as old as time, the constant struggle to eat healthily under a strict budget is something that everyone has to deal with, even during retirement. Our bodies’ most basic requirements are exercise and healthy food to help us stay in good health throughout our lifetimes. Even doctors are beginning to undergo culinary training during their med school years to help them prescribe better diets for their patients. As a retiree, it’s important that you maintain a healthy diet in order to live life to its fullest. While most healthy foods are seemingly more expensive, here are three ways to get fresh, healthy foods into your life on while on a budget.
Replacing Boxed and Canned Goods with Veggies
There’s a reason pantries exist, of course: to hold all of those canned goods and boxed foods! With meal preparation becoming easier and easier, we’re seeing more unhealthy things accompany that nice luxury—foods loaded with salt and fats. As a retiree, it’s time to take back the kitchen and replace those boxed and canned goods with fresh vegetables and foods. Fresh vegetables aren’t always more expensive than canned options, and they can force you to cook healthy, tasty recipes at home.
With all that new retiree time on your hands, staying busy for mental health is as important as healthy eating. You can knock two birds with one stone by gardening. Gardening is especially cheap and if you tend to it daily, you’ll reap rewards that can last months. This means no more shopping for fresh herbs and veggies and, instead, stepping outside and plucking them yourself. Tilling, planting, tending—these all involve some amount of physical activity, keeping you active and helping you build up a hunger for all of your fresh garden vegetables.
If you don’t have the space where you live, try to find a community garden nearby. Community gardens are shared spaces, usually in neighborhoods, where you can rent a plot and grow your own foods. Many community gardens encourage gardeners to share among each other—so you might be able to trade some carrots for your neighbor’s potatoes.
Farmers’ Markets & CSAs
If gardening isn’t your thing, there’s no way to get fresher fruits and vegetables than to get them from the people who grow them. At Farmers’ Markets, you’re able to interact with the people growing your food, ask them questions, and buy their produce. In most cases, it’s probably organic and grown locally, so it’s as fresh as you can get it. The USDA provides grants for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program to help states provide coupons to seniors with low-incomes. See if your state participates!
If you like some variety in your life, consider joining a CSA, or Community Sponsored Agriculture. CSAs allow you to “buy in” at a certain price. This allows farmers to buy additional seeds and starters at the beginning of the growing season that will go on to grow fruits and veggies. In return, you’ll get a box once a week or bi-weekly full of fresh foods.
These programs may not always be cheap, so you may need to budget and shop around to find the one that’s right for you. If you’re in need of extra income, consider selling a life insurance policy you no longer want or need in a life settlement. You’ll get a lump sum of cash that you can put back and spend every summer on fresh foods! You can use our qualification calculator to see if you qualify.
Canning Your Own Fresh Foods
Of course canned foods are relatively cheap, but they’re packed with extra preservatives and other stuff that really get in the way of the healthiest elements of food. Instead, think about canning your own fresh foods. Pickles are great snacks with just about zero calories that can last a long time if canned correctly. The best thing about canning veggies is that, if you’re canning fresh ones from the market, they’re going to stay fresh and retain all of their healthy factors. If you decide to take up gardening, you’ll be able to can extra veggies and fill up your pantry with even better foods.