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:
Serve Low Fat Milk with Meals
Serving milk with meals is not only economical but an easy way to ensure your family is getting nutrients they need like calcium, vitamins A and D, protein and more. You can also use milk as an ingredient to make your foods more nutritious. For example, use milk instead of water to make oatmeal, mashed potatoes and pudding, add milk to scrambled eggs and creamy soups.
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.
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 a future meal.
Make a Grocery Store Game Plan
Take inventory of 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.
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 tips for eating healthy on a budget and recipes at My Plate.