Last week I spoke with an individual wanting to lose weight, but struggling to eat a healthy diet because she feels the "healthy" foods are too expensive. So, I shared some suggestions with her and thought I'd pass them on to you.
Here are some tips about eating nutritiously when on a budget:
1. Skip the meat
Eat vegetarian meals more often. Select beans, peanut butter, and eggs as your protein source. This will cause less of a drain on your pocketbook. A bag of beans is inexpensive, high fiber (which is great for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure) and can be used to make more than one meal!
2. Reduce your portion size.
When you have meals that include meat, reduce your portion size. A serving of meat is 3 ounce, about the size of a deck of cards. Use meat as a "side" versus the main dish. Doing this cuts back on fat intake and cost.
3. Eat "in-season" ** fruits and vegetables**!
Watch for specials and buy produce that is in season. Also, canned fruit and vegetables are options. If you see a good sale for canned produce, be sure to stock up. Select fruit packed in light syrup to reduce sugar intake. Drain and rinse canned vegetables before cooking to reduce sodium intake.
4. Think about the "long run".
When trying to count pennies it may make sense to buy the less expensive options, such as white bread. But with cheaper, less nutritious options you're more likely to overeat. While more nutrient dense foods, such as 100% whole wheat bread, make you feel more satisfied and in a round about way save you money because it requires less food to be satisfied. Watch for sales and stock up on foods you can freeze!
5. Two money saving tips:
Buy grains in bulk.
Select chicken in family packs for a lower price per pound.
6. Shop on a full stomach.
Of course, never go to the grocery store on a empty stomach! You're much more likely to buy more foods and make less nutritious choices. . .not good for your heart health or your pocketbook. Make a list and stick with it.
A great resource to learn how to shop and prepare nutritious meals on a budget are county extension offices. If you're not sure where your local office is, contact the health department and they should be able to refer you to the right place. Also, here's a link to a website that may help you locate a nearby office - http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/. Extension offices frequently do cooking classes and grocery tours to help people eat right on a budget.
I hope you find these tips useful!