Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Frugal Diet Tips

In today's economy, it is hard to eat cheaply. Processed and quick fix meals are cheap, so many of us tend to lean towards those, instead of things that are marked low fat, fat free, low calorie, or light.

This got me to thinking. Is there a possibility of eating healthy foods on a limited budget? The more I thought about it, the more my answer leaned towards yes. Here are some ideas to help you purchase healthy foods, eat well, all on a limited food budget.

Scan weekly ads
Fruits and vegetables are always on sale, and they are the healthiest choices. Then check your meat and dairy sales. Many times stores will do sales on boneless skinless chicken breasts. Stocking up on those will pay off in the end.

Find out when your meat department does mark downs
In my store, they do it on Sunday and Monday mornings. This is the best time for me to go in and find leaner cuts of meat for a reduced price. Sometimes, they are so good, I have to stock up the deep freeze!

Shopping strategy:

Start with your outside aisles. This would include dairy, fruits/vegetables, meats and breads. Basically everything you could possibly need is in these aisles, with a few exceptions.

When you are done shopping these, then proceed to the following aisles:

Frozen: you will find frozen veggies and fruits here, nearly as healthy as fresh, and a lot cheaper than fresh can sometimes be. Not to mention- convenience!

Cereal: Then stop in the cereal aisle- shop for healthier cereals, generics work just as well. Try finding things loaded with fiber.

Soup: Next go to the soup aisle. Look for 90% or higher fat free soups, especially cream of mushroom, chicken, celery, tomato. These can give you a nice gravy for meats and rice, without too many added calories. Finding light soups to add to your daily lunch routine is good too... they help fill you up, without filling you full of calories. Also, stock up on broths and bouillon cubes or granules. These add ton of flavor without loading up on calories. 5 calories per cube typically.

Pasta/Grains: Next, hunt down grains, pastas, rices, and yes... even Ramen noodles. While Ramen is pretty calorie loaded on it's own, I have a couple of easy to make dishes using these noodles, that won't break your budget or the calorie count for the day. While brown rice is best, it can sometimes be expensive. If you can't stomach the cost of instant brown rice, try going with the long grain rice. It has a little more in the way of nutrients, as compared to plain white instant rice. And yeah, it does take a little longer to cook, but it is worth it in the end. Same with pasta. While whole wheat is best, you can always downgrade to save some pennies. Just watch the serving sizes.

Need snack ideas? The best ones you will ever find are in those outside aisles. If you find yourself longing for popsicles or ice cream, try freezing a light yogurt in your favorite flavor in a bathroom Dixie cup and a popsicle stick. Low fat, low calorie and full of flavor! You can also freeze many different fruits. Need something salty? Invest in a cheap air popper, and a bag of popcorn kernels. For a little interest, try looking for Kernel Seasons in the popcorn aisle. They have so many yummy flavors, and are low calorie. Spritzing the popcorn with no calorie buttery spray will help the seasoning stick.

When you get home from the store, try portioning out your fruits and veggies for grab and go snacks for you and the family. Baby carrots, celery sticks, cucumber slices, sliced bell peppers, apple slices (dip in a lemon juice/water bath to prevent browning), grapes, orange segments and so many more!! Fruits and veggies are more likely to be eaten if they are easy to eat. Putting these in snack size zipper bags will help you and the kiddos eat healthy!

Just remember, it doesn't cost a fortune to eat healthy, just a little imagination and some planning.

Until next time. Have a happy, healthy and fit week.

- Coach Jenn

Posted by Jenn of Personal Fitness Coach

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