As the economic news continues to be less-than-rosy, you may find your belt-tightening measures have extended to your food. But you may also have seen the research showing that healthy eating costs more. How can you stay within your budget without sacrificing good health and success with yourmedical weight loss plan? Read on for five tips to help you achieve this the next time you go food shopping:
Stay in season: You know fruits and vegetables are important, but there’s no quicker way to blow your budget than by snapping up ones that aren’t in season. That doesn’t mean you forego them entirely: Instead of that $6 pint of blueberries, find out what’s fresh (and therefore less expensive) in your area by going to Sustainable Table’s Eat Local guide. Simply plug in your state and the current month and you’ll be taken to a list of fruits and veggies you should be looking for.
Go beyond your supermarket: By far the cheapest way to get nutritious foods? Opt for your local farmer’s market instead of your supermarket. You can get local fruits and veggies for up to 50 percent cheaper than the supermarket, and they’re locally grown, too! To find farmer’s markets in your area, go to Simple Steps from the National Resources Defense Council. Just put in your zip code and you’ll be given a list of farmer’s markets in your area.
Don’t be coupon crazy: It’s tempting to clip coupons thinking you’re saving all kinds of money. The catch? Most coupons aren’t for foods you’d buy anyway! Many are also for processed foods, which are not good choices on a medical weight loss plan. Unfortunately, the freshest and most nutritious foods don’t have PR and marketing execs working on their behalf, so you won’t find coupons for them. Instead, stick to healthy whole foods rather than packaged foods when possible, even if you’ll never see a coupon for fruits or veggies.
Stock up on sales: Most likely, the biggest portion of your food budget will be spent on high-qualityproteins like fish, poultry, and lean beef. When you see these items on sale, stock up. Luckily, protein freezes well, so buy several pounds of chicken breast or salmon when you see it at a great price. If it’s in a larger container, portion it into several smaller ones before freezing (cooking smaller amounts of protein will also help stretch your budget). Tuna canned in water and beans and legumes are also good and convenient protein sources, with no freezing required. When you see them on sale, buy several at once.
Spend on quality food: In his bestselling book In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan asserts that, as Americans, we spend the least of any industrialized country on food, and that our food supply focuses on quantity rather than quality. Pollan asserts that we should be rethinking our obsession with low food prices and that by spending more for quality food, we’ll probably end up eating less. If you eat less, you may be more successful with your medical weight loss plan and, in the end, you may spend less money.
Regardless, if you’re going to splurge, it’s worth it to spend more on a quality product. For example, eating fewer highly processed meats like sausage and lunchmeats and replacing them with fresh fish may do your heart some good. While it’s important to watch your pocketbook, taking the long view when it comes to your health will reap lasting dividends.
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