Eating well doesn’t have to mean spending more money or buying costly “health foods.”

You can eat well on a budget by planning ahead and choosing foods which provide optimal nutrition for your money; in fact, you might find you spend less, not more, to eat right!

Tip #1: Plan Ahead

Plan meals and snacks in advance and know how much you need of each item; compile a list of ingredients along with other items consumed frequently and take a shopping list with you.

While this may seem difficult at first, try to buy only the items on the list.

Before you shop, check store flyers to look for nutritious foods and ingredients on sale-consider using phone apps for updates on sales and savings daily.

Tip #2: Choose Wisely

Opt for less expensive sources of protein such as beans, tuna, eggs, peanut butter and cottage cheese as these provide protein for less money than meat.

Choose frozen vegetables and light canned fruit; they they keep longer and are generally easy to chew and prepare.

Take it easy on convenience foods like sweets and snack foods as these provide fewer nutrients for your food dollar.

Get more nutrition for your money by choosing nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned), fat-free or low-fat dairy products, whole grains, seafood, such as tuna, lean meats, deli meats and eggs.

Tip #3: In-store savings

Choose store brands instead of name brands, if possible and clip and use coupons.

Look for store-specific savings, money saving “meal deals” and hunt for items on sale.

Reduced meats and other items close to the expiration date can be safely frozen for later use.

Tip #4: Be Smart at the ‘Warehouse’

If you want to save money by buying large sizes of food, share with a friend or neighbor as large sizes may cost less.

Keep an eye out on your food consumption as these items are not a bargain if you end up throwing out food.

Tip #5: Potluck Dinners and Batch Cooking

Share meal preparation and ingredient costs by planning a potluck dinner.

Cooking with family and friends saves money and offers an opportunity to engage in social fun. Split the ingredients list to share the cost and take home leftovers for later.

To batch cook, pick a few favorite recipes and double or triple the ingredients.

Keep one prepared “dish” in the fridge for weekly meals and place leftovers into well-sealed containers or freezer bags.

Be sure to label with date as most frozen items are good for about three months.

When ready to serve, thaw, reheat and enjoy!

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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