Eating Healthy on a Budget, Part Two: From the Alum


If you saw Kate Sheets as a kid, she’d be wandering around the grocery store looking for the “healthier” Iron Kids bread.

Born in a small farm town in Illinois, her interest in health became more personal when she began to have more serious health concerns in her twenties. Visiting a naturopathic doctor in Boulder, Colorado and switching from an overly processed diet to a whole foods diet with supplements helped improve her health.


“I was convinced that this is the way of life,” she said.

While little Kate’s decision was a step in the right direction, her training at NTI in 2014, which earned her a Master Nutrition Therapist certification, taught her some basic principles of a holistic — or “whole body” — lifestyle with one tight budget .

“It’s about making healthy eating a priority and choosing the most nutrient dense foods that are your whole foods.”


Last time we got some handy tips from Chef Tracy. This time, we’ll look at these two principles from the perspective of a nutritionist: what does it mean to prioritize healthy eating, and how and why to choose nutrient-dense foods.

priorities and budget

I don’t need to remind you again about the impact of rising grocery costs on your monthly bill. In times of greater scarcity, budget gurus remember one principle: priorities. Our priorities reflect our lifestyle. Even in times of poverty, healthy eating can be an achievable lifestyle if prioritized in the budget. As grocery prices rose, Kate’s household decided to slightly increase their grocery budget and cut their dining budget.


“Making coffee at home and eating out once a month instead of once a week helps us conserve groceries,” Kate said.

As a mother of two, Kate knows that time can be money. Sacrificing comfort requires a lifestyle change — and when it’s holistic or “whole body,” it may involve making that sacrifice in one area as an investment in another.


Maintaining relationships is part of a holistic lifestyle. Instead of seeing the time sacrifice in cooking as a time sacrifice in the family, consider making cooking a family affair. Cooking Matters shares tips on what kids of certain ages do best in the kitchen, as well as tips on kitchen safety.

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If you’re looking to save time, Kate suggests freezing extra food so you can easily defrost meals in a pinch.

“For those of you like me who pick up on the ‘frozen’ taste and texture of frozen fruits and vegetables, I suggest soups and smoothies to disguise that,” she said.


Diversity – and lots of it

The second principle Kate emphasizes with her clients is to eat a variety of whole foods. If you think of budgeting calories like budgeting money, whole foods hit the mark for efficiency.

“The foods that initiate the most health-promoting conversations in the body are nutrient-dense foods, or foods that are high in nutrients per calorie,” Kate said. “Whole foods contain not only the essential nutrients that the body needs to function, but also other healthy substances like phytonutrients that provide additional support for the body.”

The most nutrient dense foods are often found at the edge of the grocery store: fruits and vegetables, herbs, eggs and meat. There’s a growing body of research suggesting that organic foods can be more nutritious — not to mention a lower exposure to chemicals and hormones that can cause other health problems.

“The more varied we eat, the more vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals we get.”

In fact, each color of a plant denotes a different type of phytonutrient.

For example, red fruits and vegetables are high in the antioxidant lycopene, which may protect against cancer. Orange plants are rich in beta cryptothanxin, which can boost intracellular communication, leading to better heart health. Greens contain phytonutrients like sulforaphane, which may inhibit the spread of cancer. Blue and purple contain anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that can slow down the aging process.

Variety isn’t just good for the body’s economy; but it’s also good for your wallet’s economy. Buying special sale products weekly reduces costs and can help you try something new. And you might be surprised to find out which specific groceries are cheaper than the ones you usually buy.

When you subscribe to online grocers like Misfits Market, you can get sustainably sourced, organic produce delivered to your door for up to 40% off grocery store prices. Diversity is built into the equation.

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Be a coupon fiend

Do you remember when your mother used to look through the Sunday paper and cut out all the coupons? You too can do it horny again. Most grocery stores have loyalty programs that will send out or automatically generate coupons to accommodate your spending habits. So if you tend to buy organic whole foods, they will find a way to make it cheaper for you.

Natural Grocers has the {N}Power customer rewards program, which offers special discounts on staples like eggs, avocados, and whole chickens.

Make it a habit

Eating healthy requires habit building, which is why having a nutritionist to guide lifestyle changes and even budgeting can be very helpful. During Kate’s time as a nutrition and health coach at Natural Grocers, she worked with people from all backgrounds and budgets. You can find other NTI graduates who have their own practice to help you achieve your goals.

Kate has found that the most successful people she has worked with stick to a meal plan. Stay tuned for our final installment in the series, in which she shares a meal plan for a family on a budget.


About the author: Lisa Driscoll is a student in NTI’s Masters in Nutritional Therapists program. Having studied journalism and vocal performance as an undergraduate, she enjoys using her voice to share the benefits of a holistic, integrated lifestyle in writing. You can find more of her writing in the Baltimore Sun, Classical Singer Magazine, Capital News Service and the FOCUS blog.

About the Nutrition Therapy Institute’s Holistic Nutrition Certification

Since 1999, NTI has provided its students with the highest quality nutrition training by offering comprehensive holistic nutrition courses. Interested in starting our science-based nutrition courses and earning your holistic nutrition certification? Join an informational webinar to learn more by registering.

Picture: picture through Markus Stebnicki out pixel


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