Getting the most nutrition for your budget starts with a little extra planning before you shop. Here are some budget friendly tips for eating well.
Cook more- Eating out can be expensive. Many foods can be prepared for less money (and more healthfully) at home. Pre-packaged foods, like frozen dinners and packaged pasta or rice mixes can also add up when you calculate the cost per serving. Find a few simple, healthy recipes your family enjoys and save eating out for special occasions.
Plan- Deciding on meals before you shop can save time and money. Review recipes and make a list of what is needed, then check to see what foods you have and make a list for what you need to buy. A grocery list helps you to be less likely to impulse buy.
How much? - Making a large batch by doubling a recipe will save time in the kitchen later. Extras can be used for lunches, later in the week or frozen in individual containers. Plus, bulk purchasing is often cheaper.
Shop for in season foods- Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be less expensive. Frozen and canned produce are also good options and may be more affordable at certain times of the year. Look for fruit that is canned in 100% juice or water and canned vegetables that are labeled “low in sodium” or “no salt added.”
Watch portions- Eating too much of even lower cost foods and drinks can add up to extra dollars and calories. Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to help keep portions under control. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with grains and protein foods such as lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans.
Try this easy-to-make, tasty, veggie-rich soup.
Ham and Vegetable Chowder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ head cabbage, chopped (about 6 cups)
1 large potato-skin on-washed and diced
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) low-sodium chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) cream-style corn
1 cup chopped lean ham
½ teaspoon pepper
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan. Sauté onion, cabbage and potato over medium heat, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes
Add chicken broth, corn, ham and pepper.
Cover and simmer until potato is tender, about 10 minutes.
Serve hot, sprinkled with cheese.
Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
For a vegetarian soup, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth and beans for the ham.
Nutrition information: Serving size- 1 cup, Makes 10 servings. Each serving provides 180 calories, 6 grams fat, 270 mg sodium, 4 grams fiber, 9 grams protein.
Big thanks to David Sanders of Mitchellville who prepared the Baked Berry Oatmeal featured in this column earlier. David reports replacing the berries with a diced apple tastes great, too! The recipe can be found at foodhero.org.
Article adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Recipe from Foodhero.org.