Trying to make good food choices, yet strapped for cash post holidays? A lot of my clients lament that eating healthy puts a big dent in their paycheck, which it can. Eating healthy takes planning, especially on a budget. Follow my tips below for ideas on maximizing both your dollar and your nutrients.
1. Incorporate vegetarian meals into your weekly routine.
Not a veggie lover? When I say vegetarian, I mean plant protein, not necessarily a bowl full of spinach. Legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils) are one of the cheapest and most nutritious foods out there. If prepared correctly, they can also score high on the taste scale. Check out my vegetarian entrees for some ideas.
2. Create a weekly meal plan and pick one day to do your grocery shopping.
I find planning just 3 meals gets the two of us through 5 days of dinner meals and lunches throughout the week. Once a month, go through your pantry and try and plan your meals around what you already have. Stuck for ideas? Check out one of my previous posts for a spread of weekly meals. This little whiteboard on our pantry door has been helpful for planning (I know, it’s a little over-the-top but has been very helpful in saving us $$$). Using a whiteboard meal plan is also great as the first person home already has a plan to get started on dinner. Unfortunately I’m almost always the first home, but I do enjoy cooking after all 🙂
3. Start bringing your lunch to work.
Many of us forget about the money we spend daily on our lunch or our morning coffee. Even if your lunch is just $5 daily, that amounts to $100/month and $1200/year. Plus, lunch outside of the home tends to struggle on the healthy front. When you’re putting your dinner away from the night before, set some aside in a smaller container for your lunch the next day (and, a great use of leftovers).
Eating Healthy on a Budget
4. Use your freezer.
Do you tend to get to day 3 of leftovers and decide you’re done with it? Put that final serving in a container or freezer bag and have it ready for a late work night when you’d typically stop for take-out. Oh, and use your freezer for grains and nuts. Freezing your bread will stop it from staling and your nuts from going rancid. Toast either when you’re ready to eat them to bring them back to freshness and heighten their flavor.
5. Buy in bulk.
I love the bulk section, especially for my grains and spices. There’s nothing worse that having to spend $10+ to buy the spices for one recipe. Stores such as Whole Foods have a bulk spice section. Next time, when you need that 1/4 tsp of tumeric, you’ll spend twenty cents instead of five dollars. Grains such as rice, oats, quinoa and barley are also nice to buy in bulk because you can buy exactly the amount you need.…
Whether it is training for a marathon or trying to increase muscle mass, sports nutrition seems to be a hot topic amongst my friends and family. Below are my answers to some popular questions. I have also included links to recipes for RD-approved recovery snacks, sports drinks and even homemade protein powder.
1. Do I need sports drinks?
Unless you are planning on engaging in vigorous activity for more than an hour, water is the best choice. For activity one hour or longer (think marathon running), sports drinks can provide a source of energy, electrolytes and help replace lost fluid. Look for a sports drink with about 15 grams of carbohydrate per 8 oz. Juice and soda are not appropriate choices as they can lead to intestinal upset and cramping. Look to consume fluids about 1-2 hours before, and every 15-20 minutes during and after exercising.
2. How can I change my diet to build muscle? Do I need to increase my protein intake?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get. Simply adding more protein to your diet is not going to build muscle mass. Cutting carbohydrates is also not a great idea, as they provide a source of energy during strength training. This spares protein for use in muscle building and repair. Unintentionally, the average American (or Canadian) diet is high in protein. You may not need to add any additional protein into your diet. Athletes require approximately 0.6-0.8 g protein per pound of body weight. After strength training, aim to eat a snack containing both carbohydrates and protein. It’s also important to spread your protein consumption throughout the day rather than eating a large amount at one time.
3. What about supplements?
Be careful with dietary supplements. Dietary supplements are not regulated the same way as food. The FDA needs to show that a supplement is unsafe before taking it off the market. Check out Informed Choice (www.informed-choice.org) for more details on supplements. In general, I am not a fan of supplements. Most of our needs can be met from food alone.
4. What are some good snack ideas?
The possibilities are endless! Below are some RD-approved recipes and ideas for workout snacks:
Bars, Balls & Bites…