Posted Wednesday, March 06, 2013
March is National Nutrition Month
For many families on a tight budget, going to the grocery store can be a frustrating and overwhelming experience. Is it possible to make healthy choices when you are trying to spend less? How can you stretch your budget and still make tasty meals that are also good for you?
“If you examine your grocery receipt, you’ll find that the most expensive items are typically meat, chicken, seafood, convenience foods and snacks – foods that don’t really have significant nutritional value,” says Mary Flynn, PhD, RD, LDN, a research dietitian at The Miriam Hospital.
Flynn suggests families “eat close to the earth” and aim for a plant-based diet, which means one that’s rich in vegetables, fruits and beans, and relies on healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil. “Not only are these items less expensive, but they are also extremely healthy and chock-full of critical nutrients and vitamins. You don’t need to rely on meat as your primary protein source,” she adds.
When it comes to vegetables, Flynn says the frozen or canned varieties are typically less expensive – and more nutritious – than fresh produce. “Frozen or canned vegetables are kept on the plant longer, which preserves their flavor and nutrients, making them very healthy and budget-friendly,” she says. “They’re also extremely convenient to use, since they are already chopped and washed, plus you can stock up and easily store them.”
She recommends cooking frozen or canned vegetables in extra virgin olive oil, which makes them taste better and also boosts their nutritional value, since dietary fat helps to absorb carotenoids, which can decrease the risk of cancer, and other phytonutrients found in vegetables. Also, adding healthy fats, like olive oil, to the meal can delay hunger and minimize the desire to snack between meals.
Other ways that families can stretch their grocery budget include:
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