Eating Well On A Budget
“It’s so much more expensive to eat healthy!” This is the message that seems to prevail whenever talk turns to eating well on a budget. I’ll be the first to admit, it is certainly easier to eat healthy when you’re not concerned about the price but isn’t it easier to do most things with more money? This doesn’t mean it’s impossible or that it has to be difficult to make better choices when shopping and preparing food. Look for these healthy and budget-friendly foods:
- Plain yogurt. Yogurt is such a healthful food. It’s got protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals and probiotics (good bacteria that keep your gut happy). In many cases, it’s also got a lot of added sugar. Save money and up to 3 teaspoons (12 grams) of sweetener by buying the plain variety and adding your own sweetness in the form of fresh or dried fruit. Based on my research a 32 ounce tub of plain yogurt was .10 less per ounce than other popular flavored brands. And don’t fall for the yogurt ads that tout more benefit for your digestion than others! As long as you see “ live active cultures” on the package, you’re good to go.
- Frozen vegetables. The health benefits of vegetables could fill 7 blog posts so I’ll just say when shopping for them don’t forget to check the freezer. Frozen vegetables have the same great nutrients we value in the fresh but often for a smaller monetary value. You can get a 32 ounce bag of frozen broccoli for $1.50, while a fresh head of the green stuff could cost .50 more.
- Brown rice. In many cases, a 16 ounce bag of brown rice is priced identically to its white counterpart, neither of them more than .07 an ounce. But for the same price, the whole grain brown version is offering you a hefty dose of B vitamins, fiber, and even healthy fat and protein.
- And while we’re on the topic of grains, let’s consider plain pasta. A box of regular spaghetti costs just .06/ounce and provides 0mg of added sodium. Pasta-roni, on the other hand, costs .21/ounce and offers a heart-stopping 1,675 mg of sodium per box. Furthermore, at just .14/ounce, you can even upgrade to the whole grain pasta for less than this salt-lick costs.
- Meat. You can save the most money by simply eating less. Your health will benefit from a menu plan that gives meat a supporting role rather than making it the main attraction. You can save even more money by cooking that meat yourself. A bag of pre-cooked frozen and breaded chicken tenders will run you 5.12/pound, you can get fresh chicken thighs for baking at a price of 1.49/pound (Disodium guanylate and a dozen other ingredients, not included).
It’s true that in some cases, you may have to sacrifice convenience for a smaller grocery bill but you don’t have to sacrifice health. If you want to learn how to prepare some of these ingredients call and ask about our upcoming cooking classes and demonstrations.
-Jenna Umbriac, Manna Food Center Dietitian