As a clinical dietitian, one of the biggest misconceptions that I hear from my clients is that healthy eating is expensive.
Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that healthy eating can get pricey but so can unhealthy eating. You better believe a healthy can of beans is a heck of a lot cheaper than an artery clogging bag of chips! The following are some tips to help keep your waistline and your pocketbook happy.
1. Bulk up your meals with beans, lentils, and chickpeas
They make a quick, easy protein source for any meal (think soups, salads, chilis, etc) and are much cheaper than meat. Even the canned beans and lentils are fine. Just make sure your purchase low sodium and rinse them before using. One can typically costs as little as 80 cents!
2. Eggs, eggs, eggs
They’re cheap, delicious, a good source of protein, and who doesn’t like breakfast for supper? Try them hard boiled for snacks or poached, scrambled, or fried for meals.
3. Plan meals ahead of time
“When you don’t plan ahead, you plan to fail.” That’s my favorite quote, and it’s so true- not only do we typically overeat when we don’t plan ahead, but we also end up eating out more ($$) or buying more than we need ($$).
4. Utilize the bulk bins
For herbs, nuts, grains, and spices that you don’t use often, purchase just the amount you need from the bulk bins instead of purchasing the whole package and letting the rest go to waste.
5. Don’t be afraid of canned foods
Canned food gets a bad rep, but if done right it can save you a ton of money! Focus on the low sodium varieties and always rinse canned foods before using. I especially love canned tuna and salmon. 5 ounces of canned wild tuna is around $2.00, while 5 ounces of fresh wild tuna can be up to $15!
6. Purchase meats, berries, and milk when on sale and freeze for later use
Yep- you can freeze milk! Just make sure to leave a small amount of room in the container as milk expands when frozen.
7. Purchase fresh or dried herbs when on sale and freeze for later use
One of the best way to freeze herbs is to freeze them in oil or water in ice cube trays.
8. Buy whole foods
Many whole foods, such as blocks of cheese as opposed to shredded cheese, are much less expensive. Buy these and shred yourself to save money.
9. Grow your own foods
Seeds are cheap to buy, and tending a garden is a great stress reliever.
10. Cook at home
Eating out is expensive and typically unhealthy, so make it a point to eat at home more.
11. Buy frozen fruits, vegetables, and meats
They are frozen at the peak of freshness, so are just as nutritious as fresh and often half the price.
Bottom line: You don’t have to break the bank to eat healthy. Also, keep in mind that eating junk food may not just cost you more for the food, but also for the increased medical costs which come with bad health! You can’t put a price on good health.
Lauren Ott, RD is a registered dietitian at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. Check out her website www.thedessertdietitian.com, Facebook page (The Dessert Dietitian), and Instagram @thedessertdietitian for nutrition tips and recipes!