Kathy Cunningham, MEd, RD, LDN 

kathy-cunningham7Kathy is a registered dietician and senior program manager for the Boston Public Health Commission’s Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Division. She directs multiple nutrition initiatives for the City of Boston, including consumer education programs aimed at helping children and adults develop healthy lifestyles. Kathy has more than 20 years of experience as a community dietitian and takes pride in promoting a cultural approach to nutrition, health, and wellness that is inclusive of families of diverse backgrounds and incomes.  



I am excited to begin this blog as a way to reach families and individuals who so often have nutrition questions but no easy place to get answers. I’ve also met many residents who have their own great ideas, tips, and resources for shopping and preparing food. Through this blog, I hope we can have a two-way conversation about finding and using our pinched resources to promote healthy eating across the city.

Not only as a dietitian but also as a working mom with three kids, I face many of the same challenges as you: balancing the food budget while creating healthy, enjoyable meals for the entire family. This includes quick meals and snacks because I’m getting home late or eating on the run or rushing to take the kids to some appointment.

So I welcome your questions and tips on purchasing healthy foods on a budget, and eating, balanced, healthy meals in this busy world we live in .

This is an opportunity to ask Kathy any question you may have regarding eating healthy on a budget. Please post your questions on this page and Kathy will get back to you within 48hrs.


21 Responses to “Ask Kathy”

  1. Vivien Says:

    Hi Kathy,
    This blog is quite informative. I’ll be sharing it with families that I see at Boston Medical Center. Thanks to you and BPHC for being on the electronic edge!


  2. Naida Says:

    Today printed in the Herald and the Globe is a $5.00 off coupon for Stop and Shop.

    The coupon is valid Nov 19-27; $5 off your next purchase of $50 or more. Must present your Stop & Shop card at the time of purchase. Limit one coupon her customer per order. There are the usual exclusions: alcohol, tobacco, gift cards, milk, lottery tickets, gas, pharmacy items, postage stamps, telphone calling cards, money orders.

    It’s worth getting the paper today !

  3. Kathy Says:

    Great tip!
    Thanks for sharing and helping us spread the word of the great coupon savings.
    There’s still plenty of time for us to pick up the paper on our way home.

  4. Nicole Says:

    Hi Kathy,

    I know the benefits of eating organic but it is too expensive to purchase exclusively organic foods. What foods should I be eating organic and what foods can I afford to continue purchasing from the regular supermarket aisles?

  5. Stephanie Says:

    Hi Kathy,

    As a single person, its a challenge to make a meal just for one and the “go to” option is often take out which isn’t always healthy and affordable. Do you have some tips for cooking for one on budget?


  6. Stephanie Says:

    Hi Kathy,

    A great way to save money is to bring your lunch to work rather than go out but sometimes I find I do not have time in the morning to prepare lunch and my sandwiches get boring. Do you have any tips for lunchtime to keep it healthy, easy and interesting?


  7. Heather Says:

    Hi Kathy, Outstanding information. WIC is planning on implementing a new food package next year,I’ll make sure our WIC participants and staff go to your web site for sound tips and healthy ideas in nutrition.

    Good Job and thanks!
    Heather C.

  8. Kathy Says:

    Your are right that bringing your lunch does save you money and with a little planning you can prepare lunches that should give your taste buds something new and different to look forward to.

    First begin to plan your meals so that you “Cook once Eat twice”.

    Plan meals so that you can transform extra food into easily portable lunches. For example, a rotisserie chicken is low cost and makes a great dinner when you add whole grain pasta or rice and a side vegetable. Minimal cooking except for the rice and you can utilize frozen steamer vegetables which are also on sale this week. While your shopping pick up a can of black beans or fat-free refried beans , salsa or Chipotle sauce and fajita wraps
    For lunch in the fajita wrap add chicken slices, the beans, salsa or chipotle sauce with lettuce and tomatoes and wrap in foil. In 4-5 minute prep time you have a delicious lunch that won’t leave you feeling like your eating repeat of the night before.
    On another day you can also use the chicken, beans, add some corn and mixed greens to make a great south –western style salad.
    Another tip –
    If you’re short on time or energy, turn the beans into a nutritious snack rather than a full meal. Use the extra fat-free refried beans and mix with the salsa, and cut the fajita wrap in small triangles which are easy to eat with the bean and salsa dip.
    Finally, in the evening while your doing other things, add the carcass of the rotisserie chicken to a large pot of water, add onion, seasoning such as Italian or basil ( you can use dried which cost about $1.00 per container) and simmer for soup. Add vegetables and freeze in individual size containers and you can have a couple of healthy lunches that can be easily transported and heated quickly in microwave.
    So stay connected because we can talk more about quick easy meals for the “Singles” as one of the feature topics.

  9. Kathy Says:

    Thanks for your great question, it’s worth a featured posting which I will do in two weeks

    Stay tuned!

  10. Hi Kathy,
    Congratulations on developing this blog, I’m especially interested in the nutritional habits of our students (athletes). How can their diet (not the Red Bull types) boost stamina in the classroom and on the courts; what can parents have on hand that is quick and energizing?

  11. KB Says:

    What is the best way to bake a turkey, and keep it moist and succulent? Do you have any trick or tips? Can you give me a superb stuffing recipe that taste delicious and healthy for a diabetic.

  12. Cherrie Says:

    Hi Kathy,
    I just found your site. Speak to me like I’m 6…I need basics. How to eat organic on a TIGHT budget and to even FIND affordable organic foods in a small, rural community. Also, we’re thinking it might be smart to start moving towards vegetarianism for health reasons, but I’m really clueless there too. We both seem to dwindle quickly on high protein vegetarian fair…animal protein seems to sustain our body chemistry best. But our health is showing us that chemicals and perhaps animal products are taking it’s toll. Can you show me the links to articles and such that cover these topics? Thanks!

  13. Kathy Says:

    Thanks for joining the blog.
    Here is some basic information on orgnic foods to help making wise selection when it comes to purchasing organic foods
    Excerpts from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/organic-food/NU00255

    More nutritious?

    You’re in a bit of a dilemma standing in front of the produce section of your local supermarket. In one hand, you’re holding a conventionally grown Granny Smith apple. In your other hand, you have one that’s labeled organically grown. Both apples are firm, shiny and green. Both provide vitamins and fiber, and both are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol.
    Conventional vs. organic farming
    The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don’t use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, rather than using chemical weedkillers, organic farmers may conduct sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay.

    Organic or not ? Check the label
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed. Any farmer or food manufacturer who labels and sells a product as organic must be USDA certified as meeting these standards. Only producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification; however, they must follow the same government standards to label their foods as organic.
    If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it’s produced and processed according to the USDA standards and that at least 95 percent of the food’s ingredients are organically produced. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.

    Products certified 95 percent or more organic display this USDA seal.

    Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry a small USDA seal.
    Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal or the following wording on their package labels, depending on the number of organic ingredients:
     100 percent organic. Products that are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
     Organic. Products that are at least 95 percent organic.
     Made with organic ingredients. These are products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal can’t be used on these packages.
    Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can’t use the organic seal or the word “organic” on their product label. They can include the organic items in their ingredient list, however.
    You may see other terms on food labels, such as “all-natural,” “free-range” or “hormone-free.” These descriptions may be important to you, but don’t confuse them with the term “organic.” Only those foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.
    Organic food: Buy or bypass?
    Many factors may influence your decision to buy — or not buy — organic food. Consider these factors:
     Nutrition. No conclusive evidence shows that organic food is more nutritious than is conventionally grown food. And the USDA — even though it certifies organic food — doesn’t claim that these products are safer or more nutritious.
     Quality and appearance. Organic foods meet the same quality and safety standards as conventional foods. The difference lies in how the food is produced, processed and handled. You may find that organic fruits and vegetables spoil faster because they aren’t treated with waxes or preservatives. Also, expect less-than-perfect appearances in some organic produce — odd shapes, varying colors and perhaps smaller sizes. In most cases, however, organic foods look identical to their conventional counterparts.
     Pesticides. Conventional growers use pesticides to protect their crops from molds, insects and diseases. When farmers spray pesticides, this can leave residue on produce. Some people buy organic food to limit their exposure to these residues. Most experts agree, however, that the amount of pesticides found on fruits and vegetables poses a very small health risk.
     Environment. Some people buy organic food for environmental reasons. Organic farming practices are designed to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil.
    Hope this is helpful in making your decision to purchase organic foods.

  14. Gabrielle Says:

    Hi Kathy,

    My boyfriend and I love pizza, but it’s not the healthiest dinnertime choice. I was thinking of trying homemade pizza. Is this easy and affordable to do? Do you have any tips to share?


  15. Kathy Says:

    Great question Gabby,

    Making your own pizza can be healthy, easy and inexpensive too!

    Fresh pizza dough is available at most grocery stores for less than $1.50 each. There are both white and whole wheat varieties. Try the whole wheat, it has great flavor and I think it has a better crust when baked.
    You can make your own pizza sauce, here the link for a good sauce http://www.recipezaar.com/Easy-Pizza-Sauce-21202

    For the topping use part –skim mozzarella cheese or reduced fat pizza cheese.
    Try adding slices of chicken or ground turkey sausage. Vegetables such as broccoli, green or red peppers, onions ,and mushrooms add lot of flavor and nutrients.

    Bake pizza in a hot oven 400 for 15-20 minutes on a round pizza stone or pan, or you can use a cookie sheet and roll the crust to fit.

  16. David Says:

    Hi Kathy,

    I recently published an article on how to save money on a vegetarian diet, which I’m sure would be beneficial to your blog visitors. Feel free to publish part or all of the article on this blog.


  17. Kathy Says:

    Great !
    I will stop by the Farmer’s market this afternoon . 3-7 Correct?

  18. Thanks for this good article. I love this website very much.

  19. Hiya!. Thanks a bunch for the blog. I’ve been digging around for info, but there is so much out there. Google lead me here – good for you i suppose! Keep up the good work. I will be coming back over here in a couple of days to see if there is updated posts.

  20. This is interesting…I’d like to know what you would suggest in my situation. My goal is to shed about 15 pounds in the next couple of months. But there are such a huge number of “systems” out there and I have no idea which one to trust. Can somebody point me towards a good plan for burning fat and adding solid muscle?

  21. Kathy Says:

    Your goal for slow gradual weight loss is correct. I would suggest you follow-up with your primary care and ask for a referral to a Registered Dietitian. This person will able to review your medical and lifestyle history, and provide you with advice that will work for your personally.

    best wishes

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