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; know how much you need of each item and compile a list of ingredients along with other items consumed frequently. Take a shopping list and try to buy only the items on the list.

Sometimes online grocery shopping can help. Before you shop, check store flyers to look for nutritious foods and ingredients on sale and 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 can provide protein for less money than meat. Choose frozen vegetables and light canned fruit; they keep longer and are easy to chew and prepare.

Buy fresh produce when it is in season or on sale, however, make sure you will use it and you may be able to freeze for later use. Look for items that have a longer shelf life like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery and apples.

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

Get more nutrition for your money by choosing nutrient-dense foods. Fill up on items 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. Clip and use coupons, look for store specific savings and “meal deals, hunt for items on sale; “reduced” meats and other items close to expiration datecan be frozen.

If you want to save money by buying large sizes of food, share the cost with a friend or neighbor. Large sizes may cost less initially, but these foods are not a bargain if you end up throwing it away.

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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