Eating well on any budget
Eating healthy doesn't have to take hours to cook or cost half of your paycheck. Here's some tips for healthful foods that aren't reserved for the upper class.
Choose your foods wisely
We all see those amazing Facebook posts or Pinterest pins that show delicious, healthy meals we would love to eat. BUT, when we look at the recipe, it takes expensive, hard to find ingredients or hours to prep and cook. Ain't nobody got time for that! Fresh healthy foods definitely do cost more than processed junk foods, but you don't have to spend your whole paycheck to eat healthy.
Which Veggies should I buy?
Eating vegetables from fresh, local sources is definitely the way to go, but we all know sometimes that's not possible. So instead, choose some frozen or canned vegetables to add vitamins and minerals to your meals without the added expense or prep time of fresh veggies. Just watch out for added sodium in the canned varieties.
Meat and Fish considerations
Choosing meat and fish sources can be a little daunting as well. I mean, how do you know what fat content you want in your ground beef? Honestly, animal fats are good for you, so choosing a higher fat content will lower your price tag without sacrificing health benefits. As for fish, fresh water is definitely more nutrient dense compared to farm raised, but fresh versus frozen doesn't make a huge difference. So, go for the frozen without the guilt and enjoy those Omega-3's!
But what about Fruits?!
Eating local fruits that are in season will give you the best taste, texture, and health benefits, including the most vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But I know I love to eat apples in March and Blueberries in December. So, choose local fruits in season when possible, but otherwise choosing available "fresh" fruits, frozen (for smoothies or baking) or canned (for snacking) is just fine. Frozen Fruits tend to be flash frozen quickly after harvesting, locking in the he highest number of nutrients. When choosing canned, stay away from the fruits in syrup- they're loaded with extra sugars you just don't want. It's much healthier to choose fruits packed in fruit juice.
I love making a homemade trail mix- you choose your favorite ingredients!
Nuts, Seeds, and Dried Fruits
Obviously, most of us don't have a way to grow cashews in our backyard, but we can purchase them year round for a great snack. Nuts and seeds are a super way to get more protein and healthy fats in your diet, and they're fairly inexpensive. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and pistachios are all great additions to any healthy diet. Just make sure to choose those that are oven roasted, not oil roasted, and unsalted (or lightly salted if you like the taste). Companies usually use plain salt on nuts, which has no nutritional value, so you don't need that extra sodium in your diet. Dried Fruits can also be a healthy snack, bit be cautious of the added sugars. Many prepackaged dried fruits are coated in sugar to up the sweetness, so choose those that have no added sugar to get the healthiest option.
Make a Plan
Heading to the grocery store with a plan of what to purchase fresh, frozen, or canned is the best way to save money and get the most nutrition out of your food. We can choose foods from each section wisely, and save money at the same time. Eating healthy doesn't have to break the bank, as long as you take the time to decide which foods best suit your taste, lifestyle and health goals.