Stacy Beeson is our registered dietitian with the Integrative Medicine Center. She practices functional nutrition which focuses on how whole foods and key nutrients help regulate health and the process of healing. Stacy has been a dietitian for over 16 years.
Eating Right When the Budget is Tight.
Invest in your health by making daily wise choices that are cost-friendly. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be pricey. Good Samaritan outpatient dietitian Stacy Beeson formerly was a dietitian for Albertsons grocery stores and shares her tips.
- Eating healthfully means buying foods that have no packages such as produce. Arrange your cart like the Myplate image below where ½ your cart is colorful fruits and vegetables, ¼ lean plant or animal proteins (fresh fish, beans) and ¼ intact whole grains (oats, whole wheat bread) and low-fat dairy or dairy alternative in the corner of your cart (0%-fat Greek yogurt, reduced-fat cheese). It also means purchasing fewer of the highly processed salty, sweetened, and snack-type foods such as chips, cookies, processed meats and other sweetened beverages which can end up costing $4-6 per pound. Buy food rather than packages.
Arrange your shopping cart like this image:
- If you have the lingering belief that healthy food costs more, remember the other “costs” of food – the extra calorie costs, the nutrient-loss costs with refined foods that have been stripped of their nutrients and the long-term health costs.
- Fresh, whole produce in its natural state can actually be a bargain with cost per edible serving at less than 50 cents. When you shop the produce section, aim for 3 colors in your cart. The Produce Marketing Association found that on average people can purchase the daily recommended amount of 5-servings of fruits and vegetables for $2.18. The USDA found similar results; people are able to purchase the daily recommended amounts of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (including fresh, frozen, canned, and dried items) for $2.00–$2.50.
- If you find you buy produce and don’t eat it, keep it front and center in the refrigerator, rather than hidden in the crisper or out on the counter in a pretty fruit bowl. Cut and freeze vegetables that are about to spoil and make a pot of vegetable soup at the end of the week starting with olive oil, garlic, onion, dump the veggies-on-the-verge in the pot, add low-sodium vegetable broth, basil and oregano.
- Fresh protein sources (chicken breast, ground beef) are likely the most expensive food group. Think “beans” for dinner. Beans are an inexpensive source of protein that can be the base of dinner or help stretch meat meals. A can of beans can cost as little as 79 cents.
SAMPLE THRIFTY GROCERY LIST:
FRUITS & VEGS: Bananas, apples, peppers, cabbage, celery, peppers, broccoli head, whole carrots, potatoes, store-brand frozen vegetables without sauces.
GRAINS: bulk brown rice, bulk old-fashioned oats
PROTEIN: dried beans, peas, lentils, eggs, whole turkey, frozen chicken tenders, peanut butter
Now that you have a stockpile of healthy foods, loosely plan out your meals for the week with a lean protein source, massive amounts of produce, intact whole grain and tasty sauce.