Fitness Nutrition Forums

8 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Fitday Editor
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It's often been said that eating healthy is too expensive. This is simply not true. With a few strategies, you can save money while also avoiding extra pounds.

Frozen Fruits & Veggies

Purchasing frozen produce is an excellent, affordable way to adhere to the new MyPlate, which emphasizes a plate that is half-full of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are frozen during the peak of their ripeness--almost immediately after they are harvested--locking in vital nutrients and flavor. Frozen produce is cheap (often as low as $1 per bag) and very convenient. Steam veggies in the microwave or add frozen fruit to smoothies or cereal.

Look for Weekly Specials & Coupons

Plan a week's worth of meals and shop for ingredients based on what foods are marked down at your local grocery store that week. Also, clip coupons from newspapers or print them directly off of the Internet. 

aldi7.jpgShop at Farmers' Markets

Not only will you find a wide variety of locally-grown fruits, vegetables and grain foods, you may also find local meats, dairy products, and eggs. Foods at farmers' markets are often cheaper, less processed, more flavorful, and environmentally-friendly. You could also check if there is a community-supported agriculture (CSA) near you--these programs allow you to receive a weekly portion of a local farm's fresh fruits and vegetables.

Plant a Garden

If you have the time and space, try your hand at gardening. The start-up cost is minimal and can easily be offset with the amount of produce you'll get after your first harvest. Many cities now have community gardens, where you can use the space for free.

Buy in Bulk

Shop the bulk food section and save money on staple foods that you use often and have a long shelf-life, including pasta, grains, flour, nuts, and dried fruit. You can choose the exact amount you'll need (less waste = more money in your pocket) and the unit price is usually cheaper because there is less packaging.

costco1.jpgBefriend Beans 

Not only are beans extremely wallet-friendly, they are also a nutrient powerhouse. Beans are a delicious, meatless source of protein with one cup packing as much as 16 grams of hunger-fighting protein. They're also loaded with fiber, iron, folate, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Both dried and canned beans are extremely economical and surprisingly versatile. Dried beans are the cheapest but do require a little more time and preparation since they have to be soaked overnight. Canned beans work well for people who are strapped for time or value convenience.

Go Generic 

Name-brand items usually cost more, and store-brand/generic foods are essentially identical to their pricier name-brand counterparts.

Buy Less Meat

Meat can be costly and high in calories, total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Aim to make meat more of a "flavor-enhancer" in your dishes, and make seasonal fruits and vegetables the stars of your plate. You can still enjoy small portions meat, but opt for lean cuts and cook them with little/no added fat to keep your waistline trim and your wallet fat.

Also keep in mind some basic tips. Make a grocery list and stick to it. Never shop hungry. Consume a variety of foods in proper portions. Eat more slowly and stop when you're full. These tips, unlike the fluctuating economy, never falter.

Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. Contact Kari at [email protected].

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