***I've added on to this subject over here. I have an idea that I think might help. Check out A Cure for Ignorance?
Every so often I get comments from people that have one recurring theme. They tell me all about how little money they have to spend on food per month, the stretched budget, the cost of fresh produce and conclude that they are just too poor to eat healthy. I think this is a lousy excuse.
You may not be able to afford the $6 a bottle pure fresh squeezed pomegranate juice, but that's hardly an excuse to buy Kool-aid. You may not be able to afford top quality steaks and organic free range chicken, but you don't have to eat potato chips and candy just because they're cheap.
Nowhere else in the world are the poor so overweight, and so undernourished. There is an epidemic of over eating in the US, but very little of what is eaten is real food. Take for example peasant food in eastern Africa. It centers around teff, a highly nutritious hardy grain, and lentils, full of fiber and protein. In addition to this are locally available vegetables. All other things being equal, I would venture that a person eating this diet would be a good deal healthier than the North American peasant diet of mac and cheese and Twinkies.
In India the poor live on lentils, beans and Basmati rice, yogurt, cabbage, spinach, and soft cheese. If there is more money they also eat flat bread made with butter and flour. Their candies and desserts often have lentils ground up and mixed in with them. Even though it's fatty, it's still healthier than here.
The world over people exist solely on rice and beans, vegetables, and the occasional meat dish. This, modern science tells us, is the best way for our bodies to eat.
Now, take a look at your local stores. Bulk grains and beans are about the lowest priced things at the store. Making anything at home from scratch and raw ingredients is cheaper and healthier than buying it pre-made. Now if we consider that the produce in season is usually $1 or less per pound, and that your average family size bag of chips is 1-2 dollars it seems to me that if you can afford to buy junk food, you can afford to eat vegetables. (Of course, this means you have to let go of the idea of eating strawberries year round in exchange for leeks and cabbage, not perhaps as exciting, but excellent nutrition.) If you can afford to buy Mac and cheese, you can afford to eat beans and rice. If you can afford to buy Kool-aid you can drink water and herbal tea instead. Going further, if you can afford to buy milk a few times a month, you can afford to make your own yogurt. If you can afford to buy breakfast cereal, you can afford to purchase the ingredients to make muesli and granola. If you can afford to buy loaves of bread, you can afford to purchase whole wheat flour and make your own. One bag of whole wheat flour costs less than a standard loaf of bread, and makes 10-20 loaves. Then, if you purchase a grain grinder and pay for wheat berries in bulk and grind it fresh, about $0.25/lb you can pay for that grinder in about a year with the money you've saved on bread.
Seed for sprouting is very inexpensive. One package of organic seeds is less than $3 and produces crop after crop of healthy nutritious sprouts. Sprouts are one of the most densely nutritious things you can eat. They are easy to make, with simple homemade equipment and only take a few days. People with limited means have little excuse for not having adequate nutrition when sprouting is such a simple means to add value to your diet.
Instead of focusing on what you can't afford to buy, spend your energy imagining what you can purchase, and what you can make. The need for frugality is rather an opportunity for creativity than an excuse to spend what extra you have available on things that have no nutritional value at all. And yes, every one deserves a treat from time to time. If you can't afford to purchase high quality treats, consider making your own from scratch. This is cheaper and makes for lovely memories for your family as well.