by Diane Henderiks, R.D.
Many people believe that eating healthy is expensive and time consuming but that is not the case! The reality is that healthy eating can easily be cheap and quick. These difficult economic times do not mean that we have to sacrifice our health in order to eat well. Healthy eating can fit into your budget with careful planning and a little effort.
Preparation and planning are the key to healthy eating! Here are six easy tips for economic eats:
1. Local, seasonal fruits and veggies are many times less expensive than those you would find in the grocery store. Buying produce by the bag instead of individually is cheaper and puts more fruits and veggies in front of you to eat at home.
2. Proteins like chicken, fish, pork, and beef are not cheap but there are some ways to save a buck. Buy the large family packs and when you get home place them in separate bags for each meal – bulk packs are always cheaper than smaller packs. Don’t buy pre-seasoned or marinated proteins because you are paying for someone to do that for you. Season, rub and marinate yourself for an economical and healthier way to add flavor to your food – you will be in control of the salt, fat, and sugar which is always better!
3. Make extra portions of what you prepare for dinner to pack for the kids’ lunch the next day, – saves time and money! Or freeze fresh.
4. Check the store circulars and websites for coupons to save some cash.
5. Buy generic items and store brands, which are most often less expensive yet typically identical in quality to name brands. Did you know that many brand manufacturers are contracted to make the same items for private label?
6. Try to have a meatless meal at least one day per week. It is a recommendation that I have always asked of my clients regardless of their economic situation. Legumes (beans and such), grains and soy-based products are inexpensive and healthy.
My philosophy is to purchase foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, which means, the least processed with no added sugar, fat, salt and chemical preservatives.