When I moved to Denver, CO four years ago, I could’ve cared less about eating healthy. As I became immersed in the fit, healthy culture of Denver, I soon fell in love with a healthy lifestyle. It began simple enough, with a jar of coconut oil of course, and blossomed into a true passion. I began changing out my cosmetics and cleaning products, and of course much of my meals began to evolve. I discovered health food stores and am still totally excited anytime I get to go to a Whole Foods or Natural Grocers. I had the entire world of health entirely at my fingertips. And then, it happened, we moved to my husband’s hometown, a small town in North Dakota.
Now, I will say, we are pretty lucky here. Because of the oil boom, the town built a large grocery store that actually carries a few health food items, although they come at quite a cost. It would not have been sustainable for me to buy all of my groceries there, eat how I wanted to, and not have to take out a loan. Thankfully, I have found ways to eat exactly as I did in Denver, without breaking the bank. Here’s how to do it!
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1. Plan Ahead
Planning for meals is a good idea no matter where you live, as that helps you make better choices when you’re hungry or busy and reduces food waste. It’s even more important when you live in a small town with little access to health food. You don’t need to have every single meal planned out, but have the general backbone in sight as well as some go to healthy meals that you can always have ingredients for. For example, I always have frozen chicken in my freezer as well as raw cheddar, avocados, organic salsa, and lettuce ready for me to whip up some chicken taco salads. I also have at least one meal of week that includes ground beef in some form with sauteed veggies. If you eat grains, a quinoa bowl with roasted veggies, turmeric, and avocado is a delicious meal with many ways you can tweak it. Just having a general idea of what you are going to make helps so that you can be prepared with the proper food items.
2. Buy in Bulk
Playing off of planning ahead, buying in bulk is an absolutely necessary way of saving money and eating healthy when you can’t just walk down the street to the health store. I purchase all dried and shelf stable pantry goods and frozen items in bulk; most last me three plus months. Stay tuned for an in depth post of what and how I buy in bulk! There are many options for buying in bulk. For me personally, I buy much of my grocery items form Azure Standard. I hear that Costco is starting to stock natural and organic items as well, so that could be a good option for you if you live close enough! We are five hours away, so I can’t really swing that on a regular basis. Buying in bulk allows you to have a seemingly endless supply of the healthy food you need, when you need it, without having to make an emergency trip to the local store for a less than quality, overpriced item.
3. Find Local Suppliers
This is one of my favorite ways to stay healthy in my small town, although I haven’t utilized it as much as I would like to! If your town has a local farmer’s market, stock your produce for the week from that as long as you can. Many farmer’s markets also offer eggs, honey, and other homemade pantry items. If you can find a local rancher, purchasing local beef and poultry is an excellent way to stock your meat supply. Truly, someday I hope I am able to purchase all my meat from a local, sustainable, high quality rancher.
4. Utilize Amazon Prime and Thrive Market
Aside from my bulk purchasing and a small weekly grocery run, I stock the rest of my kitchen with items from Amazon and Thrive Market. Amazon is excellent for any non-fresh items when you are in a pinch and need two day shipping, and they do carry many organic and natural items. If I can wait, I prefer Thrive Market as it is a little higher quality and I love the brand. In fact, I’ve begun to purchase items in much larger amounts from Thrive, such as coconut milk. You will save a large amount of money on pantry staples and snacks if you plan ahead and purchase a stockpile of items from Thrive ahead of time.
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5. Talk to the Store Clerk
We have a very friendly grocery store here in town, and I recently had a conversation with them about the beef supplier. I found out, although conventional beef, it was a semi-local supplier (one state away). Many grocery stores takes requests and recommendations from patrons; in fact, I have some friends here in town who make their own baby formula with goat milk and our store started carrying it to fill that need. I can tell that there are many people here who prefer health food, as I’ve seen the health food items they carry here in town continue to grow as the demand is there.
6. Fine Tune One Meal at the Local Diner You Feel Good About Eating
We all have those days where cooking is either not an option or you just don’t have it in you. It’s best to create a meal at the diner you can eat on those days, or when you are just out having a social gathering, that doesn’t make you feel sick and bloated. For me, although being in an oil town we have a few more restaurants options than most, it is a basic salad with carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, grilled chicken, avocado, bacon, and olive oil with black pepper as dressing.
Living in a tiny town doesn’t mean you have to throw healthy eating out the window! It just makes you a better planner, better cook, and so much more appreciative of those rare opportunities you can actually get to a Natural Grocers, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s. Just watch out, you might spend an entire paycheck when you finally do get set loose in a health food store!
In truth, I actually eat healthier here in this small town than I did in Denver! Not necessarily because of the access, but because my knowledge has increased, and planning ahead has made me more mindful about the meals I am preparing. Living in a small town doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice healthy eating, especially in the 21st century with all the access to online shopping and delivery.
Tell me in the comments, how big is your town and how do you find ways to eat healthy?
What to Do Next?
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