5 Genius Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

by Karen Bakies RD LD FAND

Two of the most common questions I get as a dietitian are 1.) How do I put a meal on the table for my family that’s healthy and doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare? 2.) How do I do that without breaking the bank?

Here’s five tips I try to stick by:

  1. Serve Lowfat Milk with Meals
    Ounce for ounce and penny for penny, the nutrition in milk is second to none. A serving of lowfat milk is naturally nutrient-rich and costs around 25¢ per 8 ounce serving. Plus, you’re getting calcium, vitamins A and D, protein and more! For an added nutrient boost, replace water with milk in use milk to cook with, for example: use milk to make oatmeal, mashed potatoes and pudding, add milk to scrambled eggs and creamy soups.
  2. Buy Produce in Season
    Buying produce in season is usually less expensive and you’ll find it’s at peak flavor. Remember to buy only what you can use before it spoils. If you have extra produce, use vegetables in soups and stir fry’s or fruit in smoothies made with yogurt. Buying canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can also be a good bargain –they are as good for you as fresh and may cost less. Be sure to look for canned fruit packed in water or 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low-sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
  3. Recycle Recipes
    Don’t buy ingredients for one recipe, instead look for a variety of recipes that use the same common core ingredients. This will allow you to buy larger quantities of the needed ingredients, which can cost less. Another option is to double the recipe and put the extra in the freezer to pull out for another day. Chop vegetables ahead of time so they are recipe ready when you enter the kitchen or freeze for future use.
  4. Make a Grocery Store Game Plan
    Inventory your pantry, fridge and freezer, then plan a menu for the week and only buy the ingredients you’re missing. Use coupons and store flyers to take advantage of sales and buy store brands. Go to the store after a meal when you are full and less likely to make impulsive purchases.
  5. Try Different Types of Protein
    Vary your protein sources and try less expensive cuts of meats. There are a variety of cooking methods, like a slow cooker, which can make any cuts tender and juicy. Use beans and legumes to add bulk to a casserole. Shake things up and have breakfast for dinner and serve eggs – scrambled, omelets, frittatas –with cheese and chopped veggies. Buy the large container of Greek style yogurt, which has over 14 grams of high quality protein per 6 ounce serving, helping you to feel fuller longer.

Healthy eating doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming. Find more healthy eating on a budget tips and recipes on MyPlate.

Karen Bakies RD LD FAND

Karen is a registered dietitian and is the Nutrition Affairs Director for the American Dairy Association Mideast. A scientist at heart, she seeks out quality nutrition research to share with others in a profession she is passionate about. Karen is a mother of three and enjoys cooking, gardening, running and traveling.

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