Smart ‘n Healthy on a Budget

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Eating Smart n Healthy on a Budget

Eating smart n healthy on a budget is getting more difficult. The economy is gloomy, the cost of food keeps rising thanks to the also rising costs of forced regulations. Growing, processing, shipping, distributing and marketing food is more costly than ever. All of these factors play a role in your increasing food budget.

Overall, food prices have increased at least 5 to 6 percent in supermarkets during the past year – and continue to rise.

We all must deal with the difficulties that come with eating a healthful diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, seafood and low fat dairy products. Surveys already suggest that people are purchasing fewer fruits and vegetables since the decline in the economy that started way back in January, 2009. Just the other day I went to grab a pound of simple green grapes. They cost me over $4.00. I can remember the days a big bunch of fresh and plump green grapes cost a quarter! When you are on a budget, paying $4.00 for a modest bunch of grapes is a total turn off.

WaiterThere are big decisions going on in the supermarket because healthy eating is perceived as being more costly. Studies show that overall, people want to live well on less. People are eating out less often with 61 percent giving up restaurant meals, says a Rodale shopper survey. Participants stated that they are spending some or all of their “eating out budget” at the supermarket instead.

The study also showed that people are switching to more cost effective stores. They are making fewer shopping trips each week and reducing impulse buying. Store brands sales are picking up, buying less expensive cuts of meats and decreasing the use of prepared foods were all ways people are using to save their budget.

More people are being forced to get back into their kitchens instead of relying on eating out or grabbing fast food on the way home. Many nutritionists feel the best way to eat healthfully is to return to whole, minimally processed foods and to cook fresh food from scratch. Some actually think that the situation is “good” because they feel now people will be forced to eat home more, subsequently eating less fast food.

Around here we don’t condone forcing anyone to do (or not do) anything, nor do we think there is any upside to the onslaught of rising food costs. We do try to find ways to deal with them since there seems little else to do!

Remember: Restaurants inflate portion sizes along with calories, fat, and sodium levels. Convenience and processed foods are often laden with calories, fat, sugar, sodium, refined flours and artificial ingredients.

Choose the Best Foods

Budget Foods in a Grocery Bag
Grocery Bag

The closer your foods come to their natural state, the less processing has occurred. Think steel-cut oatmeal versus an oat fiber nutrition bar. The steel-cut oatmeal is minimally processed and packaged; when you scoop it up in your palm you can see the real oatmeal kernels. In the nutrition bar, however, you may not be able to identify a single real food amid all the processed ingredients.

Food Strategies for Your Budget Needs

  • Try planning a weekly menu of simple dishes like stir-fries, entree salads, and whole grain pasta dishes.
  • Avoid impulse buying.
  • Clip coupons and consult your supermarket fliers for food bargains.
  • Do bulk purchasing of items you use frequently.
  • Visit the farmer’s market weekly for seasonal produce.
  • Finally, put on an apron and get cooking.

Author: Jeni

Certified by the Professional School of Fitness and Nutrition in March, 1995; honored for exemplary grades. Practicing fitness and nutrition for over 20 years. Featured in the Feb. 1994 issue of "Shape" magazine. Featured in Collage in the spring issue of 1995 Low fat recipe's published in Taste of Home, Quick Cooking, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, among others. September, 2001: Featured in "Winning The War on Cholesterol" By Rodale Publishing