How to eat healthy on a budget

How to eat healthy on a budget

When you have a tight budget, it’s easier to go for the cheaper and less nutritious items. But eating healthy doesn’t always have to be expensive.

Jennifer Vargo, a dietitian at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wis., says most people go wrong when they go grocery shopping without a plan.

“When you don’t have a plan, you are more likely to give into impulse buying, which is usually less healthy choices,” she says. “Without a plan and by being short on time, we are more likely to go through the drive thru of a fast food place when we have perfectly good food at home.”

Here are some tips to make a plan:

  • Get organized: Go through your fridge, freezer and pantry. Store similar items together. Doing this will make it easier to figure out what you need and what you have, which helps you avoid buying things you already have.
  • Meal planning: You don’t necessarily have to plan for three days from now. Write down all your meal options and figure it out as the week goes on, picking what you want, like from a menu.
  • Go frozen: Fresh fruit and vegetables are ideal, but frozen can be a good alternative. Canned is another option, if you go with the “No salt added” or low sodium options. Canned fruit in juice is lower in added sugar than fruit in syrup.
  • Check out the clearance section: You can find food items that are nearing their expiration date but are still good. Search online for recipes if you don’t know how to prepare it.
  • Add beans: Beans are cheap and a good source of protein and fiber to help you feel full. You can add black beans to ground beef for tacos and white beans when cooking with chicken. And a diet rich in fiber can help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugars and keep you regular.
  • Add eggs: Eggs are versatile and affordable. Omelets are a great way to increase your vegetable intake. You can even add beans to them.
  • A go-to snack: Popcorn popped from kernels on the stove is inexpensive. And it’s healthy if you skip massive amounts of unhealthy fat and salt. It’s easy to make on the stove. You can store leftover popcorn in an airtight container to enjoy later.

If you are looking for foods that have the most nutrients, buy locally grown fruits and vegetables that are in season, Vargo says. The closer we can get our food to its original source, the better. And the less time your food spends in a factory, the better it is for you.

Are you trying to watch your weight? Take a free online quiz to learn more about your healthy weight range here. 

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.