Some people think that eating healthy and staying on a budget may not seem to go hand in hand, but with planning and forethought, it can be a reality. One of the best ways to keep your budget in line is by buying local seasonal produce and at this time of year the farmers’ markets offer an abundance of healthy, delicious fruit and vegetable choices.
When it comes to healthy eating, here are a few tips to remember:
- Infusing variety into your daily menu should be at the top of your list
- Limit the amount of prepared food you purchase – it’s easier, yes, but not as healthy as fresh
- It should go without saying, but drink a lot of water and limit your intake of sugary, carbonated drinks and alcoholic beverages. Add a lemon or lime wedge to your water to “liven” it up
- Limit your intake of sugary and salty foods – that goes for breakfast cereals and salty snacks
- Avoid foods high in saturated fats – become an avid label reader
Plan your weekly meals before you hit the grocery aisles. Use a menu like our quarterly “Stretch Your Food Dollar Menu” to help you create meals based on meat and produce that are inexpensive and in season.
Also, look for these staples when you’re at the grocery store to help you stretch your food dollar.
- Brown rice — It is a bit more expensive than white, but it has more nutritional value. Brown rice works well with leftover meats and fresh vegetables
- Soups — Use dried packet or canned soups as a base and add your own veggies or meat. Experiment with fresh herbs and spices
- Lentils and beans — You can use dried or canned and add them to soup or again, mix in with leftover meats and vegetables. Lentils and beans are high in fiber and low cost
- Pasta — It’s quick and easy to prepare and makes a great side dish for fresh salads, meats or veggies. Choose whole wheat pasta and reap the health benefits
- Meat and fish — Look for lean cuts of meat, while a bit more pricey, the health benefits are the pay off. Use inexpensive cuts for stir fry or soups.
- Fresh vegetables and fruit – With fresh fruits and veggies, you should purchase what you think you will consume in a few days for optimal freshness and flavor. You can add canned (sparingly as they are typically high in sodium) or frozen veggies to meals but if fresh is available you should opt for those. There is nothing like the flavor and nutrition of fresh veggies in your salad. Make it a routine to stop by the farmers market or check with your grocery to find out what’s in season.
- Condiments – When it comes to condiments, try adding fresh or dried herbs to meals rather than sprinkling on the salt. Try flavored vinegars or oils (you can even make your own) as marinades or on your salads
Check out our website at https://fillyourplate.org to find local farmers markets, farms and CSA’s where you can get tons of fresh Arizona meat and produce in season or check out our recipes to add variety to your mealtimes. Granted, it takes a bit more time and effort to cook fresh, read labels and plan your menus in advance, but your health and your checkbook will thank you for it!
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