Eating Healthy on a Budget

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Consuming a well-balanced diet is an important part of diabetes management. However, a common barrier to healthy eating is cost.

More nutrient dense and lower calorie foods, like fruits and vegetables, can be pricey—particularly those that aren’t in season during the winter months. Now that spring and warmer weather are upon us, the cost of produce is typically lower and easier on the wallet.  Farmer’s markets become prevalent and, many times, are a more affordable option for produce than local grocery stores. This is great time to re-evaluate your daily food choices and expand the variety in your diet.

Planning ahead to save

Saving money can be as easy as doing a little brainstorming and planning before heading out to the store.

Start by using the weekly grocery ads to compare prices. You may find that your go-to place isn’t necessarily the most affordable. For example, Aldi is a local chain that keeps food costs lower by having you bag your own groceries and rent a buggy. Some Walmarts have the added benefit of price matching with its local competitors, which can save money for those shopping for name-brand items. Or, Kroger’s may be the best choice when it runs promotions such as $5 off 5 items.

After determining your store of choice, make a list and stick to it so that you stay on budget. Never shop while hungry, which can lead to impulsive and unnecessary purchases.

Cutting down on food waste will also positively impact your food budget. It is reported that Americans throw away 90 billion pounds of food each year. This is equivalent to $1 trillion!

To cut food waste, employ the FIFO (“first in, first out”) method by rotating your pantry/refrigerator and using oldest foods first. To save money on additional food purchases, get creative and base your weekly recipes around these items. Utilizing leftovers is another cost- and waste-saving measure. Extra portions of cooked meats and vegetables can become salad toppers, stuffed into a pita or rolled up in a tortilla.

Other cost-saving tips include:  buying only enough perishable foods (fruits, vegetables, breads) to last for several days. If you can’t eat them before spoiling or the use-by date, the freezer is a salvageable option. Frozen fruit can turn into smoothies and vegetables can be used in soups or casseroles. Learning to dehydrate and can foods is another viable option.

Healthy eating can be affordable.  All you need to do is set aside a little extra time for planning and follow these tips to watch the savings roll in!

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Jessica Meek, MS, RD, LD

Jessica Meek, MS, RD, LD, developed a passion for nutrition during her teenage years and strongly believes in the healing power food. After completing her undergraduate and master degree program at Ohio University, she became a registered dietitian in 2006. She has been practicing professionally for over 10 years in the tristate area. She uses her knowledge of nutrition to empower individuals living with diabetes to make positive lifestyle changes and lead healthier lives. Jessica is a dietitian with the Bruce Chertow Diabetes Center.