March is National Nutrition Month
many families on a tight budget, going to the grocery store can be a
frustrating and overwhelming experience. Is it possible to make healthy
choices when you are trying to spend less? How can you stretch your
budget and still make tasty meals that are also good for you?
“If you examine your grocery receipt, you’ll find that the most
expensive items are typically meat, chicken, seafood, convenience foods
and snacks – foods that don’t really have significant nutritional
value,” says Mary Flynn, PhD, RD, LDN, a research dietitian at The
Flynn suggests families “eat close to the earth” and aim for a
plant-based diet, which means one that’s rich in vegetables, fruits and
beans, and relies on healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil. “Not only
are these items less expensive, but they are also extremely healthy and
chock-full of critical nutrients and vitamins. You don’t need to rely on
meat as your primary protein source,” she adds.
When it comes to vegetables, Flynn says the frozen or canned varieties
are typically less expensive – and more nutritious – than fresh produce.
“Frozen or canned vegetables are kept on the plant longer, which
preserves their flavor and nutrients, making them very healthy and
budget-friendly,” she says. “They’re also extremely convenient to use,
since they are already chopped and washed, plus you can stock up and
easily store them.”
She recommends cooking frozen or canned vegetables in extra virgin olive
oil, which makes them taste better and also boosts their nutritional
value, since dietary fat helps to absorb carotenoids, which can decrease
the risk of cancer, and other phytonutrients found in vegetables. Also,
adding healthy fats, like olive oil, to the meal can delay hunger and
minimize the desire to snack between meals.
Other ways that families can stretch their grocery budget include:
Plan meals ahead of time and come to the grocery store prepared
with a list. This helps avoid making impulse purchases.
Look for the price per unit to determine how much an item costs
per ounce. This will help you compare the various brands and
different sized packages. Keep in mind that the product with the
lowest price tag may not necessarily be the cheaper product.
Do not assume the larger chain stores are the better buy.
Neighborhood stores typically have better prices on produce and
sometimes on dairy products.
Clip coupons, but only for the products and food items you would
Buy the generic or store brand. Flynn has created a number of
healthy meals that are made with ingredients that studies have
shown will reduce risk factors for chronic diseases.
more about Mary’s Meals