Cheap healthy diet tips
August 15, 2016
You don't have to break the bank — or sacrifice taste — to whip up healthy meals and snacks, even if you're tight on time. In fact, the following four tips can help you find the sweet spot of balancing your budget, your busyness, and your well-being.
1. Make your own snackpack bags. Prepackaged veggies, fruits, raisins, or chips can be a budget-buster. "Almost anything you buy in single-serve packs, you can make on your own," says Kaiser Permanente dietitian Sue Heikkinen, MS, RD, CDE. "Financially, you pay more per unit of food, so making your own snack packs is a great alternative."
2. Fill your pantry with time-saving staples. It's easier to put together a quick, well-balanced meal if your pantry has all the basics. Stock up on canned beans, tomatoes, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, nuts, and spices. "Many healthy pantry staples are inexpensive and can help stretch your food budget," Heikkinen says.
3. Plan for leftovers. Get more from your shopping, preparing, and cooking. "It takes time and money to drive to the store, and it takes energy to turn on the oven," Heikkinen says. "If the oven's at 450 degrees, ask yourself, what else can I throw in?" When making ground turkey for tacos, for example, freeze an extra pound for someday's soup or sloppy Joes. Or double your casserole recipe and freeze a batch for a busy night.
4. Eat less meat. This may help your budget, your schedule, and your heart. For example, using canned beans is a cheaper, faster, and heart-healthier protein source than meat (as long as you rinse off the sodium-heavy liquid). "If you're eating less meat, this may free up funds to buy more beautiful produce," Heikkinen says. Fresh produce, especially in spring months in Colorado, can be slim pickings, but carrots, greens, potatoes, apples, and bananas tend to be low-cost options year-round.
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