Healthy Eating Without Breaking the Bank

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Several members of the team have voiced concerns about the expense of healthy eating so I want to address that topic this week.

I completely understand where you are coming from. After my daughter was born I wanted to cut back my work schedule to part-time. With less money coming in, my husband and I had to look for opportunities to reduce our expenses. Like most families, groceries (and diapers!) are a big part of our monthly budget and I didn’t want to shortchange our diets in the process of tightening our spending.

Healthy foods can be more expensive. That’s because companies like Laura’s Lean Beef and others invest extra time and effort to produce items according to strict nutritional guidelines and don’t accelerate the natural process with additives and preservatives. The result is fresher food that’s better for you.

That being said, there are ways to spend less and still make healthy food choices.

  • Plan your meals and snacks in advance. Build your grocery list around your menus and use coupons when you can. I know I keep saying this but it makes a huge difference!
  • Have a firm dollar figure in mind for how much you can spend. Use a calculator while you shop to track your purchases against your budget.
  • Shop the perimeter of the store. This includes produce, meats, and dairy products. These areas usually have healthier food choices compared to the inner aisles that contain the processed, shelf foods.  When you do go to the inside aisles, stick with items such as plain brown rice, whole grain bread, cereal, pasta, etc., and avoid mixes and pre-seasoned items.
  • Buy your produce in season. It is cheaper and the nutrient content is higher.  Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked in season and retain their nutrient value making them another healthy option, with added cost-saving benefits. You are less likely to waste food when you buy frozen because you can prepare the amount you need and re-freeze the rest. Reminder: avoid frozen products with sauces.
  • Shop on delivery day to get the best price on produce. Store managers usually mark down items that same day to make room for the new shipment. Find out when your supermarket gets its deliveries and schedule your shopping then.
  • Buy generic. Store brands are affordable, offer similar nutrients and usually taste just as good as the name brands.
  • Don’t pay for portion control when it comes to snacks. The small 100 calorie bags are cute but you are paying extra for convenience. Buy larger bags of healthy snack foods and divide them into grab and go baggies. Invest the money you saved on better quality fresh items.
  • Only drink water and low-fat milk.  Soda, juice and sports drinks are expensive and have no nutritional value.
  • Don’t shop when you are hungry!  You risk spending more money and buying foods that aren’t as healthy. Hit the supermarket after a meal or at least have a snack before you go.

Do you have a money saving tip for the team? Please share it with us.

Healthy Habits Jenny Kramer, RD

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3 Responses to Healthy Eating Without Breaking the Bank

  1. Jenny says:

    Ashley,

    You have already made such progress and I know you can get that last 30 pounds off! Most of us want to lose weight really fast but research actually shows that people who lose weight at a loss of 1-2 pounds per week usually have more success with keeping it off so your time frame of 30 pounds in 6 months is very appropriate. Unfortunately if it comes off quick then it often comes back quick because it probably wasn’t lost through healthy lifestyle changes.

    Adding in veggies can be tough but it is so important because they are full of nutrients and fiber and low in calories. Try roasting your veggies at a high temperature which can help bring out the sweetness. For example, take a bag of frozen asparagus and toss it in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and some seasonings such as garlic. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and roast it for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees. This also works great for squash, zuchinni, cauliflower, and almost all other veggies. Most of us like the taste of starches so try to mix in 1 cup vegetables with 1/2 cup starch (potatoes, rice, pasta, couscous, etc) and the starch will help mask the taste of the vegetables. Fresh herbs can help a lot too – try adding cilantro, basil, parsley, dill, etc. Sprinkling a little bit (1 tablespoon) of a strong flavored cheese (feta, parmesan, sharp cheddar, blue) can also help with the flavor. Check out http://www.mypyramid.gov and click on the veggie section for more great ideas.

    Keep up the good work and let me know any way I can help you!

    Jenny

  2. Ashley says:

    Thanks Jenny! I will TRY the veggies the way you said and see if I can do that. With rice I may be able to eat them. I will let you know how it goes! ;)
    Ashley

  3. Julie says:

    Ashley, you’ve done an awesome job getting where you are at and know that I am ready your blog and cheering for you all the way! Thanks so much for your comments on my blog and your encouragement. I know we can make this a lifestyle change that we can stick to. Thanks again and you will reach your goals! -Julie

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