Budget Nutrition: Eating Right Without Breaking the Bank

Food costs are climbing just as fast as gas prices these days. As a result, many families are counting their pennies in the supermarket to limit their spending. Why is it that everything that is good for you seems to cost more? When the budget is tight, it can make the job of eating healthy even more challenging than it already is! While it may seem impossible there are ways you and your family can eat healthy without breaking the bank.

Tip #1 – Beans, beans, beans!

Beans are one of the most inexpensive and most nutritious foods out there. Loaded with protein, potassium, magnesium, folacin, and soluble fiber, beans are great for lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure. As a low-glycemic food, they even help keep blood sugar in control.

  • Make a 3-bean chili (replace meat altogether or use only half the amount)
  • Give your salad a protein boost with beans instead of pricey cheese or ham
  • Make bean burritos a family staple (add chopped tomatoes and lettuce for a perfectly balanced meal)
  • Make a giant pot of bean soup (freeze portions and enjoy for days)
  • Get that slow cooker out of the cupboard and use it to prepare delicious meals with dried beans for the price of pennies (even convenient canned beans are a deal over the high price of meat).

Your Bean Savings: Replacing meat with beans can save $1.00 per person for each meal. Doing this 4 times a week for a year, your family of four will save $832 while reducing everyone’s risk of heart disease by more than 20%!

Tip #2 – Cut out the extra chop!

While two pork chops (or chicken breasts) may be the right serving for growing teenagers actively involved in competitive sports or adults training for marathons and triathalons, ONE 4-ounce pork chop or chicken breast is all the rest of us need at dinner; so, get ready to chop that meat budget!
• Downsize your pork chop to just one instead of two, and your chicken breast to 4-ounces instead of 8 ounces
• Share that 12 or 8 ounce steak and fill the rest of your plate with economical grains and vegetables
• Stop supersizing your burgers! Stick with that quarter pounder and just have one!

Your Cut-out Savings: A family of four that “chops” their meat habit 3 times a week for a year will save $500 while each person drops 9 pounds!

Tip #3 – Start a monthly turkey tradition!

Here is a budget friendly way to buy 97% fat free lunch meat: roast a whole turkey once a month (without all the trimmings)! Slice, bag, and freeze the leftovers into individual lunch servings. Besides the savings you will have lean, unprocessed meat (without the sodium nitrate) for sandwiches all month long! A perfect low-budget meat for casseroles as well!

Your Turkey Tradition Savings: Saves dollars while eliminating loads of bad sodium nitrate for the entire family.

Tip #4 – Detour the snack aisles!

One of the biggest challenges of eating healthy is buying all the produce your family truly needs. It’s time to bypass those snack aisles and put every dollar you would have spent on those Oreo’s or bags of chips and apply it to fruits and vegetables! The produce aisle is where all the disease-fighting foods are hanging out, and regardless of budget, a fist-size serving should be present at every meal and snack. And because fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber, one apple or handful of carrot sticks will fill you up faster than a 99-cent bag of chips or stack of Oreo cookies.

Your Detour Savings: Same grocery bill, but you will need to buy a smaller belt!

Tip #5 – Bag the Box!

Prepared boxes of scalloped potatoes and seasoned rice blends spend loads of your pennies for just one meal! Not to mention the overload of sodium it offers per serving! Save your pennies and your risk of high blood pressure by buying a bag of potatoes and a whole bag of rice (brown of course)! You’ll be helping your blood pressure and weight while saving your hard earned money.

Your Bag the Box Savings: In addition to getting 3 to 7 more meals for the price of one, you will bump up the fiber and nutrients while avoiding the extra sodium. Bye-bye high blood pressure!

Tip #6 – Sweet Surrender! 

Keeping on a budget while still trimming your waistline doesn’t have to mean that sweets are off the menu, especially if you shop smart and apply moderation! Although the low-fat ice-cream might cost up to 10% more than the high-fat varieties, you can actually save half the cost and still enjoy a treat 3 nights a week. How? By serving ONE scoop in a mug instead of two scoops in a bowl! Also, when you are at the ice-cream shop, ask for the “kiddie cone.” It costs half the price of a “single scoop” and really is the perfect amount for everyone in the family!

Your Sweet Surrender Savings: In a year’s time of enjoying one scoop of ice cream 3 nights a week, you’ll save money, lower your cholesterol, never feel deprived… and lose 14 pounds!

The bottom line is that there are many creative ways to enjoy the food we love and still keep to budgets and good family nutrition. Shop wisely and reap the benefits from at least one of these health tips!

Source: Zonya

Our Nutrition Expert, Andrea Hill shares tips on maintaining a healthy diet while shopping on a budget.