Welcome to the new year! January is a time for setting goals and setting budgets. Many of us will resolve to live healthier but will also worry about the impact on family finances. Here’s a secret: healthy eating doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Read on for tips for eating healthier on any budget:
- Consider store brands over national brands. Quite often they are exactly the same or pretty close to what you normally buy, and are cheaper!
- Look at the unit price. Even if something is on sale, it’s not always a better price. The small stickers on the shelves don’t just tell you how much the item costs, but they also list the cost per ounce or per pound. Compare these prices to ensure you’re are getting the best value.
- Convenience often costs more. Think pre-shredded carrots, pre-chopped vegetables, or pre-shredded cheese. These are often more expensive than the whole options. Bagged salad mixes cost more (and might not stay as fresh!) as a head of lettuce. You can usually save money if you are willing to do a little bit of work. For example, buy a whole chicken and cut it into parts, shred or grate your own cheese, and avoid instant rice or instant oatmeal.
- Focus on economical and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Bananas, apples, oranges, cabbage, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables, green peppers, and regular carrots are typically economical and are packed full of nutrition. Local seasonal produce is generally cheaper and is at its peak in nutrition and flavor. Produce that is not in season has often been transported halfway around the world to get to your store, which is not ideal for either the environment or your budget!
- Save money by cooking pasta. Whole-grain pasta dishes with veggies and lean proteins like canned tuna or salmon, canned beans, or grilled chicken breast are simple and cost-effective. Grill up the extra chicken so you can enjoy it for lunch the next day! By adding protein and veggies to your pasta dishes, you can cut back on the amount of pasta you eat while still feeling full.
- Buy frozen fruits and veggies. They are rich in nutrients and are quick and easy to use. Take veggies as a side to your lunch. You can heat them up in the microwave and season with some salt and pepper, dried herbs, lemon juice, and a splash of vinegar. Use that extra chicken breast that you grilled up last night for your protein. Frozen fruits are a great snack when you’re feeling the need for something sweet, or simply throw them into a blender for a quick smoothie!
Remember, you don’t have to break the bank to eat well. Making smarter choices at the grocery store, eating at home, bringing your lunch to work, and planning your meals can all help you to eat better without over-spending. Plus, you will feel better knowing what you are eating. Here’s to a very happy and healthy new year!
By: Chef Gary Appelsies, MS
Director of Healthy Eating
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