Tuesday, March 21, 2017

7 Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget

Happy National Nutrition Month! This month I'm focusing on the 2017 theme - Put Your Best Fork Forward. So far, we covered why eating breakfast is important and 7 breakfast ideas to start every day healthfully. I hope those topics have been helpful.

One of the most common barriers to healthy eating is the idea that healthy eating is more expensive. I think this is a common misconception. Making healthy meals at home is cheaper and more economical than eating out. Today, I'm going to share my tips for healthy eating on a budget.

Set a budget.
Making healthy choices within in your budget is important for everyone. Start with setting a reasonable food budget. Healthy boundaries, like a budget, are important parameters to set before shopping.

While I'm shopping, I like to keep a running total of the things I'm buying. As I put groceries in my cart, I keep a rough estimate of the total cost of my grocery haul.

Make a list.
Include items for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
Include foods from all food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, meat or protein, and dairy or dairy alternatives.
If you make a list, you are less likely to make a spontaneous or impulse purchase, which adds to your grocery expenses.

Use coupons.
I like to look at coupons I get in the mail or specials on the grocery store's website as I make my grocery list. My grocery store also sends specific coupons to me based on things I usually purchase. I love it! Most stores also have apps where you can download electronic coupons. Try it out. 

Make sure you're using coupons on things you actually use. Don't just buy something because it's on sale.

Compare unit prices.
What is a unit price? A unit price is the price per ounce or price per serving. It is listed on the price tag. The unit price helps you compare prices on different products to help you decide which product is the best value. Typically, larger containers are less expensive than individual servings. If you purchase individual servings, you are paying for extra packaging and convenience along with the food product.

For example, these 6-ounce yogurts are $0.70 each with a unit price of $0.117 per ounce.

This is an 8 count pack of yogurts. These total cost is $4.29 and the unit price is $0.0894 per ounce.

The larger, 32-ounce yogurt costs $2.19 and the unit price is $0.0664 cents per ounce. The individual, 6-ounce yogurt costs 11 cents per ounce. So, the cost per ounce of the large container of yogurt is almost half the cost of the individually packaged yogurt! The best value per portion or the best unit price is the largest container. If you love yogurt, then the 32 ounce container is the best value.

Shop in season.
Produce, like fruits and vegetables, are less expensive when they are in season.
Remember to compare the cost of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables to make a healthy choice at a great price. Remember to look for vegetables canned with “no added salt.” Look for fruit canned in its own juice to avoid added sugar.

Use leftovers.
After you've made a budget, a grocery list, and prepared all the food, what do you do with the leftovers? I like to make "new" meals with leftovers. It can be difficult to eat leftovers for a few meals straight, so I like to take leftovers and make "new" meals. Pizza and frittata are great vehicles for making leftovers new again. Here are my recipes for pizza dough and vegetable frittata

Read Nutrition Facts labels.
How do you make healthy choices? Read the Nutrition Facts Label and compare nutrients, like vitamin and mineral content. Talk with a registered dietitian (RD) about the vitamins and minerals that your child needs. A RD can also provide you with information about label reading that meets your child’s healthy needs.

For more tips, encouragement, and recipes for a healthy lifestyle, you can follow me on FacebookPinterestInstagram, and Twitter

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