As the New Year begins, WE CAN make resolutions to eat healthier and STILL stay on a budget

 

As the New Year approaches, let us NOT be overwhelmed by the thought of preparing tasty, healthy economical meals on a regular basis.  This year let us NOT get sucked in by grocery merchandising tricks, INSTEAD let us become savvy consumers who CAN spot good deals and CAN create meals that will spark us up throughout the whole year! 

 

New Year resolution ideas


Save money and still have quality. If you’ve been using cost as an excuse to eat inexpensive convenient unhealthy food, you can kiss that old excuse goodbye!    With a little organization and creativity, you can take control of your kitchen—cook smart, and enjoy the first-class meals you deserve.

1.   To start, here’s a quick review of basic tips of healthy eating:

  • Limit your intake of foods high in unhealthy fats and alcohol – These are budget busters that do not give you bang for your buck!  See http://mypyramid.gov/   for details.
  • Drink lots of water.  This year make a pledge to drink safe tap water for your health, help reduce environmental pollutants and SAVE Money.  Here is information on the bottled water concerns and you can take the pledge to save the environment. http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/fwwatch/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=569
  • Limit salty and sugary foods. Foods with salt and sugar in large quantities generally increase the risk for gaining weight and developing chronic diseases.
  • Make increased efforts to add “VARIETY of foods” to your eating pleasure, especially low-calorie, high nutrient vegetables and fruits.

2.  SET a regular block of time for planning meals, making your grocery list, and shopping. This task is most often shortchanged when planning for healthy meals.  Plan for  healthy snack ideas, as well as main menu items.  Don’t be afraid to surf the internet for new recipes that use specific ingredients (plug the ingredient in as a keyword of your search).  Select recipes based on the good buys in the weekly flyers as you plan your meals before you shop.

 

3. STOCK your kitchen with items that are quick and easy to cook (yet kind to your wallet):

  • Beans and lentils, whether canned or dried, make nutritious, hearty soups, and can be a great non-meat main course with the addition of fresh vegetables or rice.  
  • Vegetables and fruit should be purchased weekly, preferably in season, and locally grown (when possible) to ensure optimal taste and nutrition. You can also rely on frozen varieties as quick cooking ways to always include veggies in your lunch, dinner, or snacks. Veggies make great stir-fry using small amounts or no meat meals (Very low- cost quick meals) while fruit is good for a quick nutritious dessert or snack.
  • Brown rice is a great addition to meat and veggies.  Brown rice is now only slightly more in price compared to white; the nutritional payoff is well worth it. Another inexpensive, easy-to-fix grain, millet, is best when bought fresh. Simply rinse and toast before using it in recipes.
  • Pasta is quick and easy to prepare, and can be paired with veggies, meat, or a fresh salad. Have fun adding your own embellishments (mushrooms, spices, and herbs). Choose whole-wheat pasta whenever available. Click here for the benefits of whole grains.http://www.marshealthyliving.com/tools_resources/whole_grains.html
  • Reduced sodium soups can be nutritious and convenient, especially when you use them as your base, and then add your own veggies and leftover meat.
  • Meat and fish can be kept on hand in the fresh, frozen, or canned varieties. Use lean meats, fish or poultry for 1/3 (3 oz.) of your healthy meal, NOT the main feature. Try the newer tuna and salmon pouches or frozen varieties of un-breaded fish to SAVE on the cost. Shop for inexpensive lean cuts of meat that work well in stews and casseroles and  can be cooked in slow cookers for easy meals.
  • Condiments add flavor and interest to your dishes. Keep a selection of dried herbs, spices, curry powder, marinades, vinegars, tomato, and soy sauces. Try purchasing small (4 oz.)  bottles or red or white wine and add to chicken or tomato sauce to add great flavor. (Note alcohol evaporates when heated and only the flavoring remains in the foods). 

Finally, a few more hints that can help you save and stay on budget:

  • When cooking a big meal, make extra to freeze, or use later in the week for lunches or quick suppers. Double recipes, then freeze half.    Capitalize on one-pot dishes, which generally save prep time, money, and dishwashing. These also make great second meals. 
  • Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper; you can freeze perishable items (such as meat, and bread) in smaller portions to use as needed. It’s always a good idea to buy non-perishable items in bulk (canned foods, dried beans, and grains, etc.).
  • Look high and low (literally) at the grocery shelves to find the less expensive generic or store brands on grocery shelves. Store brands are similar to higher-priced brand names though packaged under different labels. Stores deliberately place the highest-priced brand-name items at eye level, but if you compare the cost per unit, you’ll be able to figure out the most cost-effective purchase.
  • Take advantage of specials on staples, low-sodium broth, pasta, rice, and frozen veggies.  Many of these items have a long shelf life or can be kept frozen for short periods of time.

Like anything worthwhile in life, change takes time, a little planning, creativity, and work.  So this year make the resolution that you CAN eat healthier and still stay on budget!  Think of the rewards, better health and more money!  You’ll find it is worth the effort!   No doubt you’ll still have days when you fall back on that quick-fix packaged food or the local burger drive-thru, but if you look at planning meals and cooking as a New Year adventure, you’ll soon have days and months when you find yourself pleased at what you’ve accomplished.

 

Let me know about your healthy eating New Year’s resolutions.

 

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