Weight Watchers Get Healthy Freestyle Journey – Week 21
Eating Healthy On a Budget
Yes, it’s MONDAY already!!! It feels like I just shared about sugar bombs with you but its time once again to reflect on the past week! If you’ve missed any of the posts in the recent weeks be sure to check them out. In addition to uncovering where sugar is hiding in your food that we covered last week, we have looked at the benefits of shopping at farmer’s markets, milestones, how to stay motivated, the smart use of free foods, some tactics for dining out, surviving the holidays while dieting, the benefits of a 5% weight loss, diabetes, the importance of exercise, starting an exercise routine, beginner exercises, and exercising in the summer heat. Since beginning my weight loss journey in January, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Memorial Day have come and gone.
Eating Healthy vs. Unhealthy
Due to the incidental cost of having a poor diet we’ve been told that it’s cheaper to eat healthy than not. However, healthier fare, like fruits, veggies, and fish are more expensive than unhealthy foods like processed meals and snacks or refined grains. Swapping out some of the less expensive and less healthy foods, for fresher and more nutritious ones adds a few dollars more per day. While this might not be a problem for some, people with lower incomes or families may not be able to afford the added cost.
When you have five dollars in your pocket and a family of four to feed dinner, what do you buy? With a family of six and at times more mouths to feed, I’ve faced this dilemma many times. You look at the package of chicken breasts that’s large enough to feed everyone and it’s over $12! While the package of thighs that’s large enough is only $4. Yes, they have a lot of unhealthy fat but there’s no way you can afford the breasts. What can you do?
Getting the most nutrition for your money can be hard when you don’t have a lot of money for groceries, but it’s not impossible. Instead of meat, choose other lower cost sources of protein, add high fiber foods, and switch out low nutrition high-cost foods for nutritionally dense lower cost foods. Fiber is one of the best nutritional components that helps with satiety, the feeling of fullness. Compared to other proteins, meat is very expensive. Expand your protein repertoire to include legumes, quinoa, eggs, hemp, cottage cheese, canned tuna, and tofu.
One way to eat healthy on a budget is to cook from scratch. I’m old enough to remember when we cooked food from scratch. I often sat with my children around the table as we peeled potatoes, chopped carrots, and cut up a roast into the meat for a stew. We also shredded cheese, sliced veggies, and browned meat while we waited for the dough we made to rise. We didn’t buy a pizza or pre-prepared foods. We made them from scratch. Today many people don’t have the luxury of staying home and preparing meals each night. Many busy parents say that creating freezer meals on your day off is a great way to have healthy, low-cost meals prepared for the rest of the week when you’re busy and time is limited.
While long-term eating healthy saves you in health care, productivity, and quality and length of life doing so when you are struggling to make ends meet can seem impossible. There are some healthy alternatives that you can help you reduce the initial cost of eating healthy.
- Brown rice. Skip the white rice. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are some of the benefits of brown rice. But one of the biggest pluses may be that the high amount of fiber in brown rice has as it helps slow digestion and fills you up for a long time.
- Beans. Like many items at the grocery store, buying in bulk can save a lot of money. Dry beans can cost about $1 per pound and expand to three times their volume when cooked. Make them the star of the meal instead of costly meat.
- Potatoes. With the added benefits they offer sweet potatoes are my favorite to use. From soups to casseroles these versatile vegetables can be used in a variety of ways. Containing 45 percent of the recommended daily nutritional intake of vitamin C, 18 percent of fiber, and 18 percent of potassium they’re just as nutritious as colored vegetables. Just be careful how you cook them. Frying a potato raises fat content from 0 to 8 grams!
- Green vegetables. Any leafy greens, such as broccoli, spinach, and kale have lots of nutrients per calorie and also help protect against inflammation and disease. Pair them with carrots, beets, and other sweet vegetables.
- Frozen vegetables. Buying fresh vegetables in season is the cost-effective way to get them, but frozen vegetables are a good option, too. They’re picked at the peak of their flavor and aren’t nutritionally inferior to fresh ones.
- Peanut butter. This staple of our pantry is another economic source of protein. It is rich in healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, too.
- Read Tips and tricks to save money on groceries.
- Buy whole foods. They are often less expensive than their processed counterparts. You can also buy them in larger quantities. Items like block cheeses are cheaper than shredded cheese and canned beans are cheaper than refried ones. Also, whole grains, like brown rice and oats, are also cheaper per serving than most processed cereals. The less your food is handled before it reaches the store, the less expensive it will be.
- Stop buying junk food. You would be surprised to see how much you may be spending on soda, crackers, cookies, prepackaged meals, and processed foods.
- Buy from lower cost online retailers. There are several online retailers that offer healthy foods for up to 50% off and the products are delivered right to your door. Thrive Market is a very good online retailer that focuses exclusively on healthy and unprocessed foods.
- Consider Price per Nutrient. Rather than focusing on how much food you get for the price, shift your thinking to how many nutrients you’re getting for your dollar. Deciding which ones are worth your dollars will make eating healthy on a budget a fun game of finding the most bang for your buck.
- Top 10 Vegetables With the Most Nutritional Bang for Your Buck. When it comes to vegetables if you want the most nutrition for your money, go green – as in cabbage and leafy greens. They’ll bring the most nutrition for relatively little money.
- Top 10 Fruits With the Most Nutritional Bang for Your Buck. Outside of the top 5-7 fruits, the values are so close such that small variations in price would change the rankings. Apples are considered year-round fruits, strawberries are spring/summer, plums are summer, and oranges are winter/spring. Farmer’s markets are a great place to get seasonal fruits at a good price. Buy fresh produce when it’s in season and freeze it.
Substitute Your Carbs. Instead of noodles, try sliced zucchini. My sister makes a delicious zucchini lasagna. It was weeks before anyone realized I had switched out half of their potatoes and substituted mashed cauliflower. The more versatile your cooking becomes, the more you’ll be able to opt for healthy, in-season foods that provide nutritional benefits and cost less.
Be prepared. Avoid the concession stands, middle aisles of the grocery store, and snacks at the convenience store counter. Instead, stash healthy low-cost grab-and-go items bag, desk, or car.
- Read these dining out tips.
- Shop several grocery stores. A little extra time spent grocery shopping can help stretch the budget. Some stores have cheap produce while others may offer cheaper dairy or meats. Knowing which stores have the cheapest options can save you lots of cash over time.
- Shop at ethnic markets. Check out local ethnic markets. Not only are you likely to find a bargain on certain products, but you’ll also find some really interesting ingredients.
Be Adventurous – Try New Flavors
There is a world of flavor right in your pantry. Add new and exciting tastes to old standbys.
The best way to get the most nutritional foods for your buck is to buy fresh food that’s in season and switch to higher nutrition lower cost sources of protein and fiber. Stay away from junk food. Fast food may be quicker than preparing a meal at home, but it won’t beat buying fresh fruit and vegetables in taste or cost.
Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you should buy it.
How my freestyle weight loss week went:
This week was another quiet week. With just one appointment and shopping to do again this Friday the rest of week was spent working on our blog and tending the garden. We could use some of that rain we got last week as everything is so dry and hot. With temperatures in the 90s and heat indexes of 116, it was hard to pull weeds and keep the garden in order. We now have the heartbreak of tomato wilt. Thank goodness it has only affected one patch of tomato plants and not all of them. I have been watching my squash, peppers, beans, cucumbers for ripe produce. Finally! This week I got to pick some cucumbers and make a salad with them. It was so delicious, refreshing, and clean tasting.
I continued my new exercise routine. Even though I didn’t feel well several days, I pushed myself to do some and felt better for it. I’m not sure where the week went but before I knew it it was time to step on the scale once again. I was pleased that I had continued to lose this week. With another pound gone I am averaging 1.8 pounds a week. Just shy of my 2 pounds a week goal but still I am proud of my progress and the fact that I’ve stuck with it so long. Until next week… Remember to stay positive and keep looking forward.
OnlinePlus – Put the power of Weight Watchers in the palm of your hand. Learn more.
TALK TO ME
Where are you on your journey? What do you do to save money and eat healthily?
Share your thoughts below or on my Facebook fan page.
I am not a medical professional. The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.