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Healthy Eating on a Budget

Posted Mar 23 2009 12:00am
Because of the current recession, everyone is trying to make the most of every dollar they spend. Some people may think that it is impossible to eat healthy without spending a lot of money, but that is simply not true. The fact is, you can eat healthy on a budget, but it takes planning and being willing to prepare meals at home.

Below are some tips to help you get started:

1. Plan a menu for the week, then use that menu to go grocery shopping.

2. Look through various grocery ads and see which store will offer you the best OVERALL deal, rather than going to several different stores. By limiting most of your shopping to one store, you’ll save time and gas money.

3. If at all possible, go grocery shopping either on a Friday night or before 8 a.m. on the weekends; these are the times grocery stores tend to be less crowded. This will let you “browse” for good deals without getting flustered. Also try to avoid shopping with your children. If they must go with you, if they are old enough give them their own list of healthy snacks that they can pick out.

4. Avoid buying “ready to eat” meals as they tend to be more expensive than if you bought the individual ingredients and prepared it yourself.

5. Consider using store brands of various products; often they test just as good as major name brands. Milk is a good example; you can buy organic or non-organic store brands of milk that are equivalent to name brands. Dried beans, rice, flour, and other grains are another example where the store brand is just as good as name brand.

6. Purchase healthy snacks to take to work, such as fruit (fresh or canned without added sugar or in “extra light syrup,” nuts, sunflower seeds, cheese sticks, etc.

7. Plan on having several “plant-based” meals. A lot of people feel like produce is expensive, but in general, produce is cheaper per pound than most cuts of meat. A meal of beans and rice is much less expensive than ground beef and rice. Just add a side salad and you will have a complete meal with adequate protein, carbohydrate, fiber and vegetables. Other plant-based ideas include pasta with marinara sauce and mixed vegetables (you can buy large frozen bags of mixed vegetables at a very low price – and they are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables), vegetable soup, or egg frittata with lots of vegetables.

8. If you must use meat, use smaller portions and include larger portions of whole grains (e.g. brown rice, whole grain pasta, beans, etc.) and vegetables (frozen or fresh).

9. Consider purchasing fresh produce at local farmer’s markets. The price may not always be significantly cheaper than the grocery store, but the quality is usually much higher, and this produce will last much longer (therefore you will be less likely to “throw out” produce before you have used it).

10. Replace sodas, bottled teas, fruit punches, etc. with water. If you really must have juice, use the “frozen concentrate” versions and make in your own pitcher. Avoid drinking bottled water, use tap instead. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, use a filter such as Brita.
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