According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, Americans are consuming healthier food by decreasing their caloric intake. So how can consumers continue to improve their healthy eating habits without spending so much on better choices?
Anyone can cut their grocery bill by eating Ramen Noodles on a regular basis! But what if you prefer to spend less without compromising proper nutrition?
Here are some tips for budget-conscious shoppers that also want to eat healthy
1. Think big picture
When you are looking to eat healthy without completely draining your bank account, start by focusing on the main ingredient in the dish. For example, if protein choices like chicken take center stage in many of your meals, find recipes with a few ingredients that can come to your wallet’s rescue. You can put together some cost effective flavors while putting dinner on the table. Check out sites like Pinterest, Real Simple, Woman’s Day, and others that have these types of recipes readily available.
2. Create a leftover makeover
If you happen to serve the chicken in a plain way and have some left over, plan to switch gears for another tasty meal. With a little planning, it’s easy to take the protein in a completely different direction the next day. While chicken salad is a well-known option for using extra chicken, it doesn’t have to be a sloppy second option. Don’t make it the same old way. If you prefer Mexican-inspired flavors, consider chicken salad with avocado, cilantro and salsa. You can also add dried cranberries, apples, walnuts and more to make this classic dish both tasty and interesting.
3. Go Greek
Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute for mayonnaise. You get a similar texture of creamy goodness minus the artery clogging fat. I first heard of it for chicken salad after using Clinton Kelly’s Curried Chicken Salad recipe in his book, Freakin’ Fabulous on a Budget. Since then, I’ve completely adopted it as a new condiment. Check out sites like CouponSherpa.com, Coupons.com, and the websites of your favorite brands for potential coupons.
4. Pretty presentation can add health perksMaking meals healthier can be just an ingredient swap away. If we’re using chicken salad as an example again, swap out bread whenever possible for a nutrient-packed alternative. You can completely ditch it all together and have the salad with other items. Place it inside of radicchio cups or stuff the ingredients inside of a carved out tomato. You can even serve it on top if a bed of lettuce.
5. Don’t forget to get convenient optionsIf you tend to seesaw between intricately planning healthy meals or throwing your hands up and surrendering to costly takeout, just know there can be a happy medium.Amy’s Burritos and wraps are sold at many stores such as Target. Get a tasty, convenient non-GMO meal for a few dollars. Healthier ready-made options such as Morning Star Sausage Patties made with organic soy and Van’s Whole Grain Organic Waffles all made the cut as clean packaged food in Prevention magazine. If you don’t have coupons for these items, try purchasing discounted grocery store gift cards in advance from the Raise app or any of these options. If using credit cards with rewards during checkout, see which card is best to swipe using the Pick2Pay app.ARTICLE: 3 ways to put coupons in timeout and still save on food
6. Have a built-in meal plan safety net
Stock your pantry with the three Bs. Use barley, beans and bread crumbs to use with your meals without depleting your grocery funds. Though barley has been touted as a super food by Dr. Perricone on Oprah.com, people still fail to notice how beneficial it is. Incorporate this whole grain into your meals and get inexpensive health perks. According to WebMD, it’s often used to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Use barley in dishes that ordinarily call for rice. It’s also great in soups or even in a risotto. Beans are a cheaper form of protein and can be served in many dishes. Bread crumbs can be used to season meats and vegetable dishes. Add some bread crumbs to a can of green beans with olive oil in a bowl and heat them in the microwave for a few minutes for an instant side dish.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be costly or hard to do. Consider some of the tips mentioned to load your cart with nutritious food for less.
About the author: Karen Cordaway is a former shopaholic who spent years wasting money until she learned how to stop by reading personal finance books and teaching herself how to budget and save. Karen’s writing is found on U.S. News Money and MoneySavingEnthusiast.com. Her work has also been featured on Yahoo Finance, The Consumerist, Huffington Post, Fox News, Daily Finance and many others.