Good nutrition is a vital part of having a healthy and happy life. Good nutrition enables you to have a healthy body, which in turn enables you to: make it to work everyday, play with your children more, exercise, and sleep better. Good nutrition starts with a solid foundation in your diet. It’s hard to have a healthy diet when you are on a strict budget but there are several steps you can take to ensure you set yourself and your family up for success.
1.Set a weekly meal plan and stick with it. Plan your grocery shopping trip around the meals you have included in your meal plan. Stick with your grocery shopping list. It gets expensive to venture off and buy impulse items.
I will include a sample weekly meal plan and grocery shopping list at the end of this post.
2.When you are meal planning, plan for meals that make large quantities. The leftovers from the meals will ensure you have food for a few days and help cut down on snacking or running out for fast food. This also saves you time from having to cook a new meal everyday.
· crockpot meals
3.Choose meals that include nutrient dense foods. Try and avoid packaged and processed items. It’s ok to use canned items for meals but always look for low sodium and low sugar cans if they’re available. Wholesome foods go further in meals than processed foods and tend to be cheaper. Be sure to buy produce that’s in season to help cut down on costs.
· Buy blocks of cheese instead of shredded cheese because it’s cheaper and less processed.
· A large container of oatmeal is cheaper than a box of processed cereal.
· A bag of rice costs less than a bag of processed chips and can be a more filling side dish.
4. Buy cheaper cuts of meat for certain dishes. Meat and fish can get very expensive but if you are planning on making a soup, stew, or casserole buying a cheaper cut won’t matter since it will be mixed in with other foods. Also try and alternate different types of protein with meats. Utilize beans, eggs, and canned fish to help cut down the cost of protein but also to change up health benefits from different foods.
5.Look for coupons in local papers or at the grocery store. Plan your meals and grocery shopping trips around items that are on sale or have coupons. Look for specials around the grocery store. Cutting costs in one area may help you to be able to afford your favorite snack or treat for yourself.
Sample Meal Planning and Grocery List
Stuffed Bell Peppers-
· Ground turkey ($2.49)
· 3- 4 Bell peppers ($ .98 ea)
· cheese (if desired) ($3.30)
· salsa ($1.25)
· avocado (if its in the budget) ($ .70 ea)
Garden Tomato Soup-
· 2 lbs roma tomatoes ($.91/ lb)
· 1 carton chicken or vegetable broth ($2)
· 2 cups of assorted chopped vegetables (carrots, onions, potato, celery)
· 6 oz can of tomato paste (no salt added) (.$44)
· ¼ tsp salt
Roasted chicken and Veggie Rice Bowl
· 2 lb Chicken Quarters ($.92/ lb)
· Black Beans- canned no sodium added ($.75)
· 2 Sweet Potatoes ($.76/ ea)
· Frozen Broccoli Florets ($1.32)
· Brown Rice ($1.29)
BLT & Egg Sandwiches
· Scrambled eggs ($.87/ dozen)
· Bacon- low sodium ($5.12)
· Tomato ($.75)
· Lettuce (or spinach if it’s in the budget) ($1.32)
· You could also grill peppers or onions if you have them lying around and want to experiment with your sandwich
Grand Total Cost- $ 31.05
*Prices are based on generic items for cost efficiency
—- Jade Mitchell, Nutrition Educator