Diabetic Diet Tips: Eat Healthy and Save Money
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, you must have heard the terrible news of our slumping economy. It seems you can't go an hour, let alone a day, without experiencing yet another media report on the housing bubble bursting, the impending recession, out of control inflation, or the volatile stock market.
In addition to the country's financial craziness, we now have a new baby to incorporate into our family budget. Of all the economic happenings, we've been most negatively affected by ever rising gas and food prices. So, in the spirit of frugality that I am trying to embrace, the Bonilla family has taken a critical look at our grocery budget.
I've been thinking a lot about the issue of consumption. This topic is popular today, as the general public gains greater awareness of the United States' overconsumption of the planet's resources. Consumption has been the hallmark of American society for decades. Now people are looking at goods and services and asking themselves, "Do I need this?"
Food is abundant in this country. The average American consumes more calories than they need which is demonstrated by the growing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Here's an optimistic way to view inflation: If food costs more, people will buy less and eat less, thus the average American will get healthier and lose weight! A few tips for stretching your food dollar and losing weight at the same time:
- Prepare meals at home. This is a no brainer, both for the health of your body and your wallet. Eating out is expensive and typically high in fat and calories. As a diabetic, eating at home ensures that I know what's in my food, thus I'm better able to bolus insulin appropriately. If you must eat at a restaurant, bag up half (or more) of your meal to go. Not only will you consume a more modest portion, but you'll have another meal for later, stretching your $10 expenditure.
- Drink water. It's free and the best choice for overall hydration. We use a Brita water filter pitcher and refill it at least once a day with tap water. If you life in an area where tap water tastes good then you can skip the filter, making water an even less expensive choice. Basically, you're going to pay more for sodas, juice, and iced tea, while adding little nutritionally. I've gotten into the habit of drinking water with meals and I really enjoy it! Water is quite refreshing.
- Eat smaller portions. The more food you consume, the more you'll have to purchase. By making a dish that can feed your family for two or more meals, you make the cost per meal decrease substantially. For example, we enjoy these Spinach Beef Burritos that call for a pound of lean ground beef and several cups of fresh spinach. If I only made a couple burritos out of that quantity of stuffing, our dinner would cost around $3.00 per person. However, I make six burritos with those ingredients (plus some shredded cheese, enchilada sauce, garlic, onions, and tortillas) which makes the per meal cost around $1.00. Plus, it always helps for a working mom to have leftovers ready for dinner!
- Go Vegetarian. As is typical for most men, my husband loves meat. So, most of our dinners do involve beef, chicken, or fish. However, I sneak in an occasional meatless meal, which is typically less expensive. Beans are a great source of protein and go a long way. A large pot of chili can feed a family for several meals.
- Buy in bulk. Loading up on healthy food at your local bulk store is a great way to save money and ensure your family eats healthfully. We buy a large bag of apples, several pounds of chicken breasts, light yogurt, cottage cheese, whole wheat bread, broccoli, and whole grain granola bars. The trick with fruits and vegetables is that you have to plan your meals so that you eat them all before they spoil.
- Focus on produce. Often you hear the complaint that healthy food is expensive. Organic produce is quite costly, but on the whole fruits and vegetables do not cost more than processed, packaged foods. Also, in the end, eating healthy will save you money on medical bills by avoiding obesity, heart disease, and other preventable medical conditions.
I'm sure other people have ideas on how to simultaneously save money and promote physical health. Please share them in the comments!