In one hand is a happy stomach giving a big thumbs up standing next to two full plastic grocery bags. In the other hand is a couple of silver coins.

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet on a Budget

Last updated: December 2022

Eating healthy does not have to be expensive or complicated! I used to think that eating healthy meant going to Whole Foods to pick up some pricey organic produce. I figured that higher-quality foods would mean a higher grocery bill.

Recently, I’ve learned that eating an anti-inflammatory diet can actually save time and money. My patients agree with this and have shared a few tips of their own for staying on a budget while eating anti-inflammatory foods.

Limit or cut out red meat

Reducing meat, especially red meat, is an important part of the anti-inflammatory diet. I’ve realized that cutting out meat products not only saves me money on my grocery bills, but it saves me time in the kitchen. I no longer worry about defrosting or marinating meat as part of a complicated multistep recipe process. Cutting out meat has also helped reduce my cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight.1

Incorporate vegetables and olive oil

I mostly make vegetable stir-fry meals using healthy oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil. Grocery stores such as Aldi offer very affordable fruits and vegetables for wholesale prices. If you want to stay with organic foods, try places such as Fresh Thyme or Lucky’s Market, which carry organic foods at very affordable prices.2

Pre-cut vegetables are good for aching lupus hands

My patients with lupus have mentioned that cutting and chopping vegetables and fruits can be very painful on their hands and fingers. A shortcut is buying pre-cut produce instead. Carrots, celery, and other vegetables that have already been chopped up are easy to use in recipes. Buying a vegetable tray – the kind you would bring to a party – and using the pre-cut vegetables for recipes is also a shortcut to eating an assortment of vegetables without the prep work.

Add anti-inflammatory spices

Instead of buying expensive supplements containing turmeric, curcumin, and other anti-inflammatory ingredients, you could buy a jar of these spices from the grocery store instead. A sprinkle of turmeric in your food, if you don’t mind the taste of it, can be a more natural form of this compound to fight inflammation. Tip: Using black pepper with turmeric adds to its anti-inflammatory properties.3

Baking tips

Replacing certain ingredients for baking can be helpful during the holiday season. Instead of using wheat flour or white sugar for baking, try almond flour or coconut sugar. These ingredients are widely available at Aldi or any grocery store. They are keto friendly and more friendly for the digestive tract, one area where inflammation can start. According to the "leaky gut theory," the environment and bacterial flora of the digestive tract are major contributors to widespread inflammation in the body.4

Change caffeine habits

Give green tea and chai tea a try! Aside from being less expensive than coffee doused in creamer and sugar, they contain higher levels of antioxidants, polyphenols, and catechins to fight inflammation. Chai tea also contains ginger, which promotes circulation, supports the immune system, and reduces inflammation.5

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