Healthy eating on a budget

April 16, 2018
Cost-Friendly Nutrition | Texas Children's Hospital

When you’re shopping for groceries with healthy eating for the family in mind, what should you be aiming for? Ideally, we want our plates to be filled to a quarter with whole grains, a quarter with protein - such as meats, fish and eggs, and filled half with fruit and vegetables. However, it can be tricky to shop for nutritious food while staying under budget, so I wanted to share a handful of tips to minimize costs for your next grocery run:

  1. Plan your meals. Write down how many meals you will eat at home along with the food ingredients required, including lunches and snacks if necessary. Then, make a list of the foods you need purchase and bring it to the grocery store to avoid buying unnecessary items not on your list. When you’re meal planning, try to use one vegetable serving for both lunches and dinners, alongside two servings of fruit for each day.
  2. Use your leftovers. Consider your leftovers when meal planning to avoid food waste. For example, if you cook ground beef on Monday, you could use the leftovers for Thursday’s “Taco Night.”
  3. Don’t pack lunches for school. If your child’s school offers healthy lunch options for your child to use, you can save money in the long run by planning for fewer lunches to supply.
  4. Avoid processed foods. These items will add extra costs to the same foods you’re eating. For example, purchase sharp cheese and cut it into pieces instead of buying cheese sticks or packaged sliced cheese. Similarly, purchase whole fruits and chop them up in your spare time.  
  5. Pick what’s in season. When you’re in the produce section, choose fruits and vegetables in season. Produce in season is often cheaper compared to others. If possible, avoid pre-packaged fruits and vegetables and buy your produce fresh by weight. If you want produce not in season, consider purchasing them frozen. You might find a better deal this way, and the items will last longer in the freezer.  
  6. Buy generic. If the option is available, buy products manufactured under the generic grocery store brand name instead of commercial brands. Generic brand products are often much cheaper.  
  7. Use bulk bins. If you’re looking for nuts, seeds, dried fruit or anything stored in bulk and purchased by weight, use your store’s bulk bins instead of purchasing packaged items. You can use bags provided by the store and even bring your own container(s) in some places.
  8. Portion your snacks. Instead of buying individually wrapped or packaged snack items, portion your items at home yourself and separate them for later snacking.

Do you feel prepared? If so, be sure to grab these ingredients to prepare this delicious, seasonal recipe.

Cauliflower rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, medium to large
  • 5 Tbsp. parmesan cheese (or any shredded cheese)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut the cauliflower into mini florets, and then put them in a food processor until it looks like rice.
  2. Add garlic and olive oil to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer for about 3 minutes. Stir often, and make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.
  3. Add the cauliflower rice to a medium saucepan, and bring it to medium-high heat for 4 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper in rice to taste, pour the oil mixture into the rice and add parmesan cheese.
  5. Cook until all of the ingredients are mixed and warm.
  6. Serve cauliflower rice with any type of protein and whole grain of your choice!

Post by:

Maria Diaz, MS, RDN