Friday, July 12, 2024

Eating to live: Healthy meals at low costs

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Featured photo courtesy of Laura Gossett

Story by Dale Hurley

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In today’s world, it seems almost impossible to find quality, healthy food to feed a family without spending a lot of hard-earned money. For people with low incomes, the prospect of getting healthy food every time they go to the grocery store could break the bank—but it doesn’t have to.

Laura Gossett, owner of Tasty Table catering in Smyrna, Tennessee, knows these challenges well.

Photo courtesy of Laura Gossett

At 18, she began budgeting as a mom of three. With a limited income, Gossett lived on food stamps for a short period of time and wanted to provide her children with healthy options.

“The food systems in America push over processed foods and make them affordable. I know you can have healthy options and it still be affordable,” Gossett said. “It takes a will, a want and a discipline to make this happen. If we changed the way we eat, even on government assistance, in the long term, it can help our healthcare systems.”

In a post-COVID world, prices for everything have constantly become less and less affordable. Food prices from 2019 to 2023 rose by 25%, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Trying to budget for this price increase while paying for other necessities like housing leaves lower-income families in a worse spot than before the pandemic.

For most, the issue isn’t the lack of desire to eat healthy; it’s not knowing where to start, especially when it seems unaffordable. Fortunately, in today’s digital age, videos and recipes are available at users’ fingertips.

“It just takes a bit of time to plan,” Gossett said. “What I have found is if you spend time planning your food and pre-prep, you save so much money and can enjoy other things in life because you have managed your money.”

An important part of eating healthy is staying consistent. Sticking to a nutritious diet takes effort, and it can seem like a consuming task. However, eating healthily has more benefits than drawbacks. Gossett aspires to have the energy to spend with her family and children as she gets older.

So, once someone has the motivation to eat healthily, where do they start? There seem to be so many aspects of cooking that make trying to eat healthy quite a complicated task. This is also affected by not confidently knowing what is and isn’t healthy—and healthier foods are less appetizing most of the time—but Gossett knows this doesn’t have to be the case.

“Flavor comes from simple things such as kosher salt, black pepper, and fresh herbs. During the spring, plant a few herbs in a pot, chop them up and dry them out in the oven, and they will last all year. Herb plants are $3 at the store and give you a year of flavor” Gossett said.

Eating healthy involves more than just getting healthy food at the grocery store; it involves maintaining a nutritional daily intake where needed. For Gossett preparing healthy meals is all about effort.

“Have a budget and stick to it, Gossett said. “We often think we are living to eat, and in actuality, we should be eating to live.”

Gossett has been working on a video for YouTube explaining how to shop for healthy foods and cook for a family without spending a lot of money. The video will be uploaded later this month.

Dale Hurley is a contributing writer for MTSU Sidelines.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Destiny Mizell and Assistant Lifestyles Editor Shamani Salahuddin, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more news, visit www.mtsusidelines.com, or follow us on Instagram at MTSUSidelines or on X at @MTSUSidelines. Also, sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

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