It can be difficult to consume a heart-healthy diet while sticking to a budget, but eating foods high in nutritional value and cutting costs don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Some of the most budget-friendly foods are loaded with nutritional value and can easily help your waist and your wallet.
Use less Meat
Eating less meat is a good tip while trying to adhere to a budget-friendly heart-healthy diet. Replacing meat with beans, grains or soy not only saves money, but also widens nutritional intake. Using less meat than what is called for in a recipe or replacing some of the meat with diced vegetables cuts back on costs while adding vitamins and minerals. It’s also cost-effective to select less expensive cuts of meat, such as stew meat, round steak and flank steak (all heart-healthy lean meats). When purchasing thick cuts of meat, such as large chicken breasts, cut them in half and pound them thin for use over many meal preparations. Try making a meatless dinner entree once a week, find a new recipe to make or simply remove the meat from one of your favorite meals. Look for high-fiber, high-protein options such as spelt, quinoa, kamut, amaranth, teff, couscous and millet.
Cook at Home
Cooking at home not only saves money, but reduces the intake of foods high in calories, fat and sodium, present in most restaurant meals. One of the best strategies to avoid dining out is to plan ahead: pack lunch the night before and have a plan for dinners at the beginning of the week. Preparing home-cooked meals in large batches and freezing them individually saves both time and money. You also can eat breakfast items such as hot and cold high-fiber cereals, fruit, yogurt or eggs for dinner or lunch to save money and add nutrition.
It makes sense to shop with a grocery list. According to CNN, for each additional minute you spend in a grocery store past half an hour, you will likely spend between 50 cents and a dollar. Using coupons and retail apps saves even more money. The best foods for your buck include eggs, low-fat milk, no-salt beans, whole-wheat pasta, oats, potatoes, in-season fruit, natural peanut butter and whole chicken. Stock up on these nutrition bargains when they go on sale.
If you’d like to learn more about heart-healthy eating, including more budget-friendly tips, schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian at Centegra Health System by calling 877-CENTEGRA (236-8347).
Source: Julie Holbrook MS, RD, LDN