Fertility Friendly Eating on Budget

Margaret Wertheim M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

by Margaret Wertheim, MS RD

Sometimes it can feel like following a fertility friendly diet is expensive, especially when you may have extra costs for fertility treatments and medications. Here are some ways to help keep your food budget in check:

1. Prioritize organic meat and dairy. Due to the use of hormones, pharmaceuticals and pesticides in the production of meat and dairy, these items should be your highest priority to buy organic. If completely organic dairy will put too much of a strain on your budget, buy the rBGH-free (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) dairy. While this doesn't guarantee the animals have been given feed raised without pesticides, at least you know the cows weren't treated with hormones. Similarly with beef, if organic or grassfed beef is out of your price range, at least make sure to buy beef that is raised without hormones, as estrogen is routinely used in raising conventional beef.
2. Choose lower cost cuts of meat. It's much less expensive to buy a whole chicken than boneless skinless chicken breasts or any one part of the chicken. Alternatively, buy some grassfed ground beef, which costs less than buying steak. Use it to make some homemade chili, tacos, enchiladas, meatballs or any of your favorite recipes. Serve with plenty of vegetables.
3. Eat eggs. They're nutrient-rich, and even the most expensive organic eggs don't cost more than $5 per dozen. A dozen should provide the protein for 6 breakfasts at less than $1 each.
4. Learn about the Dirty Dozen. These 12 fruits and vegetables have the highest pesticide residues, so spend some extra money buying organic spinach and strawberries. When it comes to avocados and onions, it's ok to buy the conventional version since these are some of the Clean 15, or those fruits and vegetables with the lowest levels of pesticide residues.
5. Buy in bulk. Save money by buying whole grains, beans and nuts and seeds in the bulk section. It's usually significantly less expensive than buying the prepackaged version.
6. Cook at home instead of eating out. You can serve a delicious home-cooked dinner for 2 at a fraction of the cost of eating out or ordering in. When you have extra time, stock up your freezer with healthy homemade soups and other meals that you can quickly reheat after a long day at work when there isn't time to cook.
7. Do price comparisons. Some of the major chain grocery stores actually have higher prices in their natural foods section compared to your natural foods grocery store or Whole Foods. The opposite can also be true. Check out fruit and vegetable markets, where they often carry some very reasonably priced organic produce. This may require trips to multiple stores, but it can definitely help to trim your food budget.
8. Eliminate high-cost low-nutrient foods. An excellent example of this is cold cereal. Cold cereals are generally quite expensive, not well-digested and their vitamin and mineral content is generally due to a spray-on multivitamin. Meanwhile you can generally buy 1 pound of organic oats in bulk for less than $2. Cut out other foods like packaged cookies and sweets. These items tend to be pricey and have no fertility benefits.

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