By Nicole Cook
I often hear about the struggles of eating healthy on a budget. However, it is possible to achieve the daily requirements for fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein without breaking the bank.
Plan your weekly menu with recipes that fit around your busy schedule. Use your day off as prep day for time-consuming recipes. Make a grocery list and update it as you run out of certain foods. Organize your list by food group.
Here are a few tips for grocery shopping:
- The priciest items are often at eye level – Search high and low for better deals. Clip coupons, read the sales flyer, join the loyalty membership program and ask for a raincheck if the item is sold out. Remember that stores utilize first in, first out (FIFO), so pick from the back for later sell-by dates.
- Pick fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season – Think “outside the store.” Stop by a local farm stand on your way home from work, visit a farmer’s market on Saturday or contact your local farm about community-supported agriculture programs. If buying canned fruits and vegetables, look for “no added salt” and for fruit “in their own juice.”
- Purchase and freeze family sized or value packs – This can be especially helpful with meats such as chicken, turkey and lean ground beef. Other low-cost protein-rich items include eggs, peanut butter, beans, peas and canned or frozen seafood.
- Make half your grains whole grains – Look for whole wheat bread, flour and cereal. Oatmeal is a whole grain and can be consumed by itself as a hearty breakfast option or in a recipe. Popcorn is a great, whole grain snack.
- Look for low-fat and fat-free dairy products – It’s also helpful to buy items like plain yogurt in bulk containers, then add your own fruit and toppings.
Incorporate these tips when planning your meals and shopping to help create your healthy, budget-friendly dishes.
Nicole Cook, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital.